Code of the District of Columbia

§ 22–3214. Commercial piracy.

(a) For the purpose of this section, the term:

(1) “Owner”, with respect to phonorecords or copies, means the person who owns the original fixation of the property involved or the exclusive licensee in the United States of the rights to reproduce and distribute to the public phonorecords or copies of the original fixation. In the case of a live performance the term “owner” means the performer or performers.

(2) “Proprietary information” means customer lists, mailing lists, formulas, recipes, computer programs, unfinished designs, unfinished works of art in any medium, process, program, invention, or any other information, the primary commercial value of which may diminish if its availability is not restricted.

(3) “Phonorecords” means material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term “phonorecords” includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.

(b) A person commits the offense of commercial piracy if, with the intent to sell, to derive commercial gain or advantage, or to allow another person to derive commercial gain or advantage, that person reproduces or otherwise copies, possesses, buys, or otherwise obtains phonorecords of a sound recording, live performance, or copies of proprietary information, knowing or having reason to believe that the phonorecord or copies were made without the consent of the owner. A presumption of the requisite intent arises if the accused possesses 5 or more unauthorized phonorecords either of the same sound recording or recording of a live performance.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit:

(1) Copying or other reproduction that is in the manner specifically permitted by Title 17 of the United States Code; or

(2) Copying or other reproduction of a sound recording that is made by a licensed radio or television station or a cable broadcaster solely for broadcast or archival use.

(d) Any person convicted of commercial piracy shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or imprisoned for not more than 180 days, or both.

(e) This section does not apply to any sound recording initially fixed on or after February 15, 1972.


(Dec. 1, 1982, D.C. Law 4-164, § 114, 29 DCR 3976; Aug. 20, 1994, D.C. Law 10-151, § 113(b), 41 DCR 2608; Oct. 31, 1995, D.C. Law 11-73, § 2(a), 42 DCR 3277; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 205(c), 60 DCR 2064.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 22-3814.

Effect of Amendments

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-317 substituted “not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01” for “not more than $1,000” in (d).

Cross References

Consecutive sentences for theft and certain other crimes, availability, see § 22-3203.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 113(b) of the Omnibus Criminal Justice Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 1994 (D.C. Act 10-255, June 22, 1994, 41 DCR 4286).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Commercial Piracy Protection Emergency Amendment Act of 1994 (D.C. Act 10-363, December 15, 1994, 41 DCR 8059).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 205(c) of the Criminal Fine Proportionality Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-45, April 1, 2013, 60 DCR 5400, 20 DCSTAT 1300).

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 19-317: Section 401 of D.C. Law 19-317 provided that the act shall apply only to offenses committed on or after June 11, 2013.