Parvin Dhaliwal,18, a student at the University of Arizona (UA), is the first person in country to be convicted of a crime under state law for downloading music and movies. Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property, and was sentenced to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. Dhaliwal must also take a copyright class at UA and stop using file-sharing applications. What makes this conviction notable is that copyright protection is normally a federal matter.
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced, in a public report, that a system of monetary rewards would help improve the enforcement of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2002 (CAN-SPAM Act.) That Act, which became effective on January 1, 2004, required the FTC to conduct a study and provide a report to Congress on a CAN-SPAM “bounty system.” While the fact that bounties may be offered to those who help authorities in nabbing spammers doesn’t unusual, what is very much out of the ordinary is the projected bounty amounts necessary to make them effective.
The FTC reports three hurdles exist in enforcing the CAN-SPAM Act: 1) identifying and locating the spammer, 2) developing sufficient evidence to prove the spammer is legally responsible for sending the spam, and 3) obtaining the source of funding for the bounties. The report states that those with the information most helpful to authorities are whistleblowers and insiders: those who have had personal or business contact with the spammers, themselves. Because of the real possibility of retaliation, the monetary awards encourage the whistleblowers to come forward. The FTC thinks that awards of about $100,000, upward to $250,000, are reasonable, with funding for the bounty program to come from federal taxes.
I wish I knew a spammer; for a quarter of a million, I could by RV my kids are clamoring for and go on the road for a few months. Why do we need an incentive to do the right thing. Turning in details of bona fide spammers is just a good thing to do. Why should we expect to be bribed by the government?
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