Kerry and the Pirates


The Department of Justice wants more power to crack down on peer-to-peer networks. Declan McCullagh reports:

The U.S. Justice Department recommended a sweeping transformation of the nation's intellectual-property laws, saying peer-to-peer piracy is a "widespread" problem that can be addressed only through more spending, more FBI agents and more power for prosecutors.

In an extensive report released Tuesday, senior department officials endorsed a pair of controversial copyright bills strongly favored by the entertainment industry that would criminalize "passive sharing" on file-swapping networks and permit lawsuits against companies that sell products that "induce" copyright infringement.

"The department is prepared to build the strongest, most aggressive legal assault against intellectual-property crime in our nation's history," Attorney General John Ashcroft, who created the task force in March, said at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.

Since there's an election on, I feel obliged to ask: Does anyone know where John Kerry stands on this? His website doesn't say much about IP, his public statements on the subject have been rare, and as far as I can tell he hasn't offered any specific proposals, except when it comes to cracking down on piracy in China. If you believe the rumor mill, his administration's IP policy might be as Draconian as Ashcroft's new plan. Or not.