Monday, May 7, 2007

U.S. Copyright Law Spreads Abroad

From the Age:

BEFORE he was extradited to the United States, Hew Griffiths, from Berkeley Vale in NSW, had never even set foot in America. But he had pirated software produced by American companies.
I understand the need to protect the interests of companies from large-scale piracy operations, however, I find it ridiculous that the United States is able to extend its laws to another country and enforce them against people who have never even set foot on U.S. soil, much less committed a crime on it.

Considering these "crimes" were committed on Australian soil, they should be tried by an Australian court under Australian law, not in an American court under American laws. Just because these crimes were committed on the Internet, which transcends national borders, doesn't change a thing. No one should have to make sure they abide by the laws of every single country in the world simply because they use the Internet. While this has only been applied to a relatively large-scale "crime", who's to say it won't be applied to smaller matters in the future? No citizen should even have to be aware of another country's laws, let alone abide by them.

Not only is this blatantly unfair to any person being extradited (irregardless of their "crimes") since they are being removed from their own country, but I also view any country being able to exert their laws on another country's citizens as an infringement of that country's sovereignty. What's even more scary is that Australia permitted this and actually encouraged it by allowing the United States to do this through the treaties between the two countries.

"This extradition represents the (US) Department of Justice's commitment to protect intellectual property rights from those who violate our laws from the other side of the globe," US Assistant Attorney-General Alice Fisher said.

But Justice Young described as "bizarre" the fact that "people are being extradited to the US to face criminal charges when they have never been to the US and the alleged act occurred wholly outside the US".

Enough said on that front.

Griffiths plead guilty to criminal copyright infringement, and may receive a jail sentence of up to 10 years for leading the "Drink or Die" pirate group. Apparently he caused more damage than a rapist, since, as the linked article points out, the maximum prison term for rape in the United States is just under 7 years. (You know your legal system is screwed up when....)


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