Ashcroft declares "most aggressive assault" on piracy in US history

At a press conference in Los Angeles today, Atttorney General John Ashcroft announced an expansion of Department of Justice powers to combat intellectual property theft. Some say the approach appears to be modeled after the war on drugs.

The U.S. Justice Department recommended a sweeping transformation of the nation's intellectual property laws, saying peer-to-peer piracy is a "widespread" problem that can be addressed only through more spending, more FBI agents and more power for prosecutors.

In an extensive report released Tuesday, senior department officials endorsed a pair of controversial copyright bills strongly favored by the entertainment industry that would criminalize "passive sharing" on file-swapping networks and permit lawsuits against companies that sell products that "induce" copyright infringement.

Link to Declan's story, Link to DoJ press release, Link to the lengthy report issued today by the DoJ's Task Force on Intellectual Property (PDF). More coverage at the LA Times: Link 1, Link 2