Stiffer penalties for bootlegging, piracy in Mississippi

By Jon Kalahar - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - A bill signed into law this week by the governor increases the penalties in Mississippi for piracy and bootlegging. And not just those making the illegal items, but also those who possess them.

Attorney General Jim Hood says it's illegal goods coming into Mississippi that could be harmful if used.

Two and a half years ago, a bust in Canton uncovered a perpetrator creating numerous copies of movies and CDs to sell as originals.  It may be the most recognizable form of piracy or bootlegging, but really any product can be affected.

"We're looking at bogus break pads, contact lenses that affect people's vision.  It hurts American companies, but moreover, it hurts Mississippi consumers," said Attorney General Jim Hood.

Bill author Bobby Moak says it's been around for years and it's time the state did something about it.

"We've always had this, but it's stealing. It's stealing someone's work product and we need the law in place that take care of that," said Moak.

Possessing more than $1,000 worth of counterfeit or bootlegged material is now a felony, and those convicted could face five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Possessing less that $1,000 worth of counterfeit or bootlegged goods would be a misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Still, the Attorney General is most concerned with illegal prescription drugs coming into the state.

"We're having to work with pharmaceutical companies to identify those bogus drugs that come in over the internet that are Chinese made drugs that don't do anything," said Hood.

To prove the Attorney General's point, a quick Google search of prescription drugs in China turned up over one million hits. Hood is using his cyber crime unit to track down who's receiving the illegal prescription drugs in Mississippi.

"I think by busting some of these places, setting an example, we'll deter a lot of that and protect Mississippi consumers," said Hood.

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