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No Electronic Theft Act

The No Electronic Theft (NET) Act, enacted in 1997 by the U.S. Congress, amended titles 17 and 18, United States Code, to provide greater protection for copyright owners by amending criminal copyright infringement provisions, and for other purposes.

Provisions of the NET Act impose criminal liabilities on any individual who willfully reproduces or distributes copyrighted works either "...for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain..." or "...by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of one or more copies of copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000." "Financial gain" is defined to include "...receipt or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works," which means that even if there is no monetary gain, an individual can be criminally prosecuted if the total retail value of the reproduction or distribution exceeds $1,000.

Other provisions extend the statute of limitations to five years, establish a recidivism provision which increases penalties for second and subsequent copyright offenses, and recognize victims' rights by allowing copyright owners to provide a victim impact statement to the sentencing court. Penalties for violations include prison terms and fines, depending on the severity of the infringement or recidivism.

For additional information on the NET Act, see the following sources: