Calif. Senate Greenlights Anti-Piracy Bill

Gretchen Gallen
SACRAMENTO – The California Senate unanimously approved a bill this week that could put a damper on businesses and individuals that distribute copyrighted material for profit.

Scribed by Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Culver City, SB1506 would require that file-sharers reveal their email addresses when distributing a commercial film or digital recording over the Internet.

The bill is designed to specifically distinguish between "legitimate" digital works distributed over the Internet and pirated content. It would not apply to users who send a commercial or self-made recording or film to a member of his or her immediate family or household.

According to the terms of the bill, failure to comply with the proposed legislation would be considered a misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in jail. There could also be a $2,500 fine to the infraction. Juveniles would be fined $250 for first offenses, however that fine would shoot up to $1,000 for three or more times that the juvenile is caught file-sharing copyrighted media content.

The bill is currently on its way for a policy committee review before it hits the Senate floor for another round of votes. If it survives, it will end up in the governor's office for a signature.

According to a spokesperson for Sen. Murray's office, the bill is a state-mandated program that would require funding and enforcement by the state of California.

Through its various incarnations, the bill has been heavily backed by the Motion Picture Association of America and many other members of the film industry.

A spokesperson for Murray's office told XBiz that as one of the bill's main sponsors, the MPAA has been very involved in the process of making the bill.

However, bill has persistently criticized by free speech advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union for its potential to impede constitutional rights.