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Virginia Toughens Piracy Penalties

Virginia just passed a law that will toughen the penalties for counterfeit products -- everything from pirated DVDs of TV shows to diabetes test strips and smoke alarms.

The law, which takes effect July 1, will boost the fine for pirating copyrighted works from $1,000 to $2,500 and jail time from six months to one year. It would also make trademark infringement combined with 100 or more copies a felony punishable by up to five years in jail.

The state will also be able to seize the items and profits "used in substantial connection with trademark infringement."

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is poised to sign a similar law in his state later this week, and there are also bills in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Hollywood is increasingly interested in state and federal crackdowns on pirated content given the ease with which digital content can be copied and distributed over the Internet, particularly as those distribution models for video content migrate to the Web.