A bill that will make it a crime to swap files produced without the permission of the copyright owners has been introduced into the US House of Representatives.
The move to make it illegal to upload files to peer-to-peer (P2P) sites comes only two weeks after the Recording Industry Association of America threatened to file civil lawsuits against thousands of individual computer users who download the files.
In April, the organisation successfully filed lawsuits against university students operating "Napster-like internal campus networks". Three students agreed to pay damages ranging from $12,000 to $17,500 each.
This latest bill, the Author, Consumer and Computer Owner Protection and Security Act of 2003, proposes fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison for uploading a copyrighted file to a P2P network.
In addition, as file sharing is a global phenomenon, the bill will also put in place plans to enable better information sharing between countries about copyright infringement.
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