White House wants stiffer penalties for online piracy

"Because of the high profit margin and shorter prison sentence for intellectual property crimes compared to other offenses, piracy and counterfeiting are a strong lure to organized criminal enterprises, which can use infringement as a revenue source to fund their other unlawful activities," she said.

"One of the most brutal drug cartels in the world — Mexico-based La Familia — manufacturers and sells counterfeit software, generating more than $2.4 million in profits each day."

To that end, the administration wants to increase the range of sentencing guidelines for intellectual property offenses committed by gangs or organized crime groups, as well as increasing the penalties for violations that risk death or serious bodily injury (such as counterfeit drugs) and for repeat offenders.


In addition, the White House requested Congress make a series of changes that would "give enforcement agencies the tools they need to combat infringement" such as allowing the Department of Homeland Security to share information about possible copyright violations with the rights holders and giving law enforcement wiretap authority for criminal copyright and trademark offenses.

Finally, the administration wants Congress to establish the performance right, which compensates musicians whenever their music is played in public. The policy is strongly opposed by the broadcasters, who have labeled it a tax and lobbied heavily against it.

“The recommendations largely address important areas of intellectual property enforcement that are often overlooked in more contentious debates at the edges of these issues," said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn.