Bill Targeting Content Pirates Passes

The House has passed on voice vote the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act.

The bill, which now goes to the President's desk, will crack down on the illegal distribution of pirated copies of movies and songs, but allow technologies like ClearPlay to sanitize copies of films, DVD's or TV shows without violating copyright laws.

The bill lacks the deal-killer provision of its last incarnation, when language was added to prevent the skipping of commercials.

The bill criminalizes the sort of piracy that creates bootlegged copies of films--sold on street corners or downloaded on computers--sometimes even before they are released, though more often after they have been secretly copied in theaters.

It could also cover the pirating and distribution of a TV show before its release.

The bill exempts from copyright infringement the technologies that sanitize DVD's and films, so long as they are sanitizing an authorized copy and so long as no "fixed" copy is produced by the sanitizing process.

Public Knowledge, the group that has pushed for fair use protections of copying technologies, did not oppose the bill, although it was checking out language that targeted Internet distribution of those pirated copies.

The Senate passed the bill back in February.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.