Gonzales Pledges To Get Tougher On Content Pirates

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The Justice Department is pledging to get even tougher on copyright violators and other intellectual property thieves, saying it has already boosted convictions and lengthened prison sentences.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday he was sending a bill to Congress--the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2007--that would  toughen penalties for repeat offenders. He also said he would "hit criminals in their wallets" by boosting restitution and ensuring all ill-gotten gains are forfeited, as well as any property used to commit the crimes.

TV and film piracy has been a big issue in the conversion to digital, with Justice pledging to boost the number of attorneys trained to prosecute intellectual property (IP) crimes and to encourage more international cooperation in investigations.

Universal Chairman Bob Wright has argued that getting a handle on that piracy is not only critical to the digital TV conversion, but the whole U.S. and even global economy.

"These crimes, as we all know, also have a direct impact on our economy, costing victims millions of dollars and, if left unchecked, diminishing entrepreneurship," Gonzales said in announcing the bill.

Gonzales said there were currently 230 federal prosecutors who have been trained to handle IP cases, and that convictions in copyright and trademark cases were up 57% in 2006 over 2005, with prison terms of more than two years up 130% over the same period.

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