Va. Updates Theft-of-Service Bill

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The Virginia legislature approved new language for its theft-of-service bill
Wednesday, updating protections for new products, including video-on-demand and
cable-modem services.

The bill is modeled on legislation passed last year in Pennsylvania and
Maryland.

The theft update was passed earlier this month by a 37-0 vote of the Senate,
and it was also approved unanimously Wednesday by the House.

Civil remedies in the bill call for penalties of $500 per criminal act or
device.

The language is vital because courts have ruled that prosecution under
federal anti-theft rules prevents recovery from traffickers on a per-device
basis. The new Virginia bill allows for treble damages, or $1,500 per box, for
criminals deemed to be pirate-box merchants.

Gov. Mark Warner is expected to sign the bill in light of the broad
legislative support, Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association executive
director Kathryn Falk said.

She noted that the governor is a veteran of the wireless-telecommunications
industry and understands the technical issues.

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