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Michael Jackson Slams ACCOPS Act

Pop legend Michael Jackson on Monday slammed a new bill that seeks prison time for file-swappers, arguing that music fans are the ones who drive the success of the music industry.

“I am speechless about the idea of putting music fans in jail for downloading music. It is wrong to illegally download, but the answer cannot be jail,” Jackson said in response to legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday by John Conyers (D.-Mich.) and Howard Berman (D.-Calif.) that would make illegal file swapping a felony.

The Authors, Consumer and Computer Owners Protection and Security Act of 2003 (ACCOPS Act) carries penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for uploading a copyrighted file to a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

Jackson, the former child phenom who ruled the pop music charts in the 1980s, called on the music industry and consumers to find a solution together. “Here in America we create new opportunities out of adversity, not punitive laws and we should look to new technologies, like Apple’s new Music Store for solutions. This way innovation continues to be the hallmark of America. It is the fans that drive the success of the music business; I wish this would not be forgotten,” he said.

The ACCOPS Act also bans the practice of videotaping a movie in a theater and calls for an additional $5 million to augment the current $10 million allocated to the Justice Department to investigate copyright crimes.

The bill requires that file-sharing sites get consumer consent before searching a computer for content or to store files. In addition, the legislation would enable better information sharing between countries about copyright piracy. A further provision of the bill would make it a federal offense to provide false information when registering a domain name.

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