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BIA Ruling May Have Pushed 'Moral Turpitude' Too Far

October 3, 2016Media Mention
Law 360

Priya Sopori was quoted in a Law360 article on October 3, 2016, discussing a recent ruling by The Board of Immigration (BIA) stating that criminal copyright infringement is a “crime involving moral turpitude” and can lead to deportation, BIA Ruling May Have Pushed 'Moral Turpitude' Too Far (subs. required). The September 23rdruling resulted from an appeal filed by a man who was ordered deported after being convicted of infringement for selling pirated CDs. The decision was met with concern as experts questioned whether the BIA had overstepped its bounds and extended the standard definition of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).

In its ruling, the BIA said criminal copyright infringement was "closely analogous" to the theft and fraud violations it has deemed CIMTs.

According to the article, a former California attorney general had allowed immigration judges to consider evidence outside a petitioner's criminal case to determine whether a crime involved moral turpitude but that decision was vacated by then-Attorney General Eric Holder in April 2015. The issue is currently before the BIA to determine when a judge can use a "modified categorical approach" in deciding whether an immigrant was convicted of a CIMT.

While some argue that judges must use the categorical approach based on prior Supreme Court rulings, Sopori said “criminal copyright infringement is theft, and that the public will eventually view IP theft with the same gravity as the theft of physical property.”

"As long as the value of intellectual property tends to go up in our society — as it will, with more advanced software, patents, technology, how could it not? — people are going to start to see that theft of intellectual property is as serious as a theft of ... tangible property," she said.