St. Mary's Law Journal


Intellectual property pirates menace the industry by hijacking audio recordings, movies, television broadcasts, and software—posing an economic threat and accounting for billions of dollars in losses annually. This Comment examines legislative attempts to combat information piracy through criminalization of copyright infringement—focusing on the proposed Criminal Copyright Improvement Act of 1995 (Improvement Act). The Improvement Act contemplates expansion of criminal copyright infringement law, attempting to close the legal “loophole” exposed by United States v. LaMacchia, and providing a more effective means for deterring copyright piracy. Part II of this Comment provides a historical overview of United States copyright laws and introduces the concepts of civil and criminal copyright infringement. Part III focuses on a discussion of factors influencing the recent move to bolster the scope and deterrent effects of criminal infringement laws. Part IV explores the options available to combat modern piracy, concluding that passage of the Improvement Act represents the best solution. The Improvement Act would update current copyright laws to more effectively confront today’s piracy problems. Modern technology signals that it is time to update the Copyright Act of 1976 (Copyright Act). Human ingenuity will inevitably continue to produce creations which upset the balance of copyright laws, leaving them ill-suited to protect authors’ creations. This constant progression of new technology signifies that copyright laws are performing their avowed function—promoting the arts and sciences. Today, the same creativity which advances technology should be used in fashioning appropriate laws to protect it. The Improvement Act represents such an effort, providing a strong step toward conforming the copyright system to the modern technological world.


St. Mary's University School of Law