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Solons line up behind antipiracy legislation

Pols ally on plank of copyright protection bills

WASHINGTON — A group of senators launched an offensive against copyright piracy earlier this week by introducing legislation aimed at stopping a variety of illegal activities.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) led the way with the Family Entertainment & Copyright Act of 2005, which is principally designed to give parents more control over what their children see. But, as Hatch said in a prepared statement, “It also closes some significant gaps in our copyright laws that are feeding some of the piracy so rampant on the Internet.”

FECA comprises four separate bills, all of which were originally introduced in the previous Congress but failed to gain enough support or momentum. The key bill that is meant to enhance copyright protection is the Artist’s Rights & Theft Prevention (ART) Act, sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

The ART Act increases penalties for illegal distribution of copyrighted works before they are released. It also establishes a means for copyright owners to be compensated for their losses. Most significantly, however, the ART Act would make it a federal crime to camcord a film as it screens in a theater — a measure the movie industry has sought for some time.

The music and software industries also would benefit from the legislation, according to Feinstein. In a statement, she said: “The growing piracy of movies, music and software is hurting the ability of artists to be compensated for their hard work. The ART Act will ensure that those who steal the creative works of others will be held accountable.”

The three other bills that are part of FECA are the Family Movie Act, the National Film Preservation Act and the Preservation of Orphan Works Act.