RealTime IT News

California Tightens Anti-Piracy Laws

California tightened its anti-piracy screws Wednesday when it enacted a new law lowering the felony threshold to 100 counterfeit CDs. Previously, the threshold for a felony copyright violation was 1,000 copies.

Under a new measure signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the felony threshold is now the same for illegal CDs as it is for movies.

"This law ensures that thieves threatening the livelihoods of those in the music industry will face much greater risk of being prosecuted and appropriately punished," Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said in a statement praising the new law.

"This law will make thieves think twice about peddling stolen music."

The legislation (AB 64), co-sponsored by assembly member Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga) and Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), was approved in the California Legislature with only two dissenting votes before moving to the governor's desk for signature.

"Retailers who operate legally shouldn't have to deal with unfair competition from thieves," said Jim Donio, president of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM).

"Independent stores like Dimple Records and major chains like Tower Records ... and all the other companies who run businesses or have stores in the state of California welcome this important anti-piracy legislation."

According to the RIAA and NARM, more than 1 million pirated music CDs were seized in California last year, with more than 1,200 related arrests.

"It is critical that this activity be treated for what it is -- dealing in stolen property and profiting from it. And that must come with serious consequences," Bainwol added.