Public Knowledge Statement on Justice Department Proposals
Public Knowledge Statement on Justice Department Proposals
Public Knowledge Statement on Justice Department Proposals

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    For Immediate Release

    Background: Today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proposed a new legislative package to deal with copyright infringement. The following statement is attributed to Public Knowledge:

    Public Knowledge supports the enforcement of copyright law and the protection of copyright holders' rights. We are concerned that the Justice Department's (DoJ) proposal attempts to enforce copyright law in ways it has never before been enforced. Making the “attempt” at copyright infringement the same as actual infringement puts it in the same category as far more serious criminal offenses.

    The bill would eliminate the requirement that a copyrighted work be registered before the government could pursue a criminal copyright infringement claim. Current copyright law requires a copyrighted work to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before an infringement suit can be filed–regardless of whether it is a civil or criminal suit. While this change might increase the Department's ability to apprehend copyright infringers, it would have an overall negative effect by discouraging copyright registration.

    Since the DoJ has opened the discussion to making changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Public Knowledge would support a number of changes to the DMCA. While we welcome the discussion of copyright law and encourage enforcement of copyright protections, we wish the Justice Department had devoted some analysis as well to protecting the fair use rights of consumers, such as reinstating consumer fair use of digital copyrighted works, as proposed by Rep. Rick Boucher in HR 1201.

    Text of the proposed bill and the Department's analysis of it are here:

    Public Knowledge is a public-interest advocacy and education organization that seeks to promote a balanced approach to intellectual property law and technology policy that reflects the “cultural bargain” intended by the framers of the constitution. More information available at:

    Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at or 405-249-9435.