|This is a reply to a message that Brian Kerecz wrote on the No-Politics Thread:|
Brian, you wrote, "Question regarding the new felony law which the RIAA is attempting to get passed. Isn't the way in which it is written Unconstitutional? It makes the distribution a felony because it assumes that once someone places a piece of material on the internet that at least 10 people will download a copy. This is only an assumption however; in reality, what if nobody downloads the material? The fact is, that these people do not care what the facts are- they are now making assumptions about what may or may not be being done over the internet. Isn't our justice system supposed to be based on FACTS and not assumptions? I think it is very dangerous for all of our liberties if these people(for lack of a better term) get their way.
The Conyers-Berman bill would operate under the assumption that each copyrighted work made available through a computer network was copied by others at least 10 times for a total retail value of $2,500. That would bump the activity from a misdemeanor to a felony, carrying a sentence of up to five years in jail."
My answer is that if you check Article I of the U.S. Constitution, there doesn't seem to be anything preventing Congress from classifying violations of Federal laws as felonies or misdemeanors for any reason they see fit, including assumptions that you deem questionable. However I suppose there could be a potential due process issue, depending on what legal precedents exist.
Bear in mind here that the crime they are trying to address, IMO, is the offering of copyrighted material for download, irrespective of whether anyone actually downloads it. Estimating the number of people who download it seems to be entering into it only for the purpose of determining the seriousness of it.
Of course, the wisdom of what they are trying to do may be another matter entirely. I've always thought that the idea of depriving convicted felons of the right to vote was a completely wrong-headed idea, and the notion that this can be done over a mere $2,500 even more so.