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House Bill Hard on Software Theft

November 5, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Theft of copyrighted works by computer would become a federal offense under a bill the House passed by voice vote Tuesday.

Violators would be punished under wire fraud laws regardless of whether the offender profits from the theft.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was inspired by a Massachusetts court case involving a university student who posted legally purchased computer game software on a computer bulletin board, making it available free to others.

Under current law, only a person convicted of profiting from an illegal transfer of copyrighted information can be fined up to $250,000 and imprisoned for up to five years for a first offense.

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The bill is H.R. 2265.

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