There is a bill in the House right now called S.978 and if it passes it means that people who have copyrighted material illegally, could go to jail for up to 5 years. So from what I understand is, not only do you face the default civil judgement of $250,000 per offense but now ALSO the criminal offense, which has its own punishments.
So next time you use a bit.torrent just keep that in mind.
S.978 – A bill to amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright, and for other purposes.
Makes unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty of up to 5 years in prison. Illegal streaming of copyrighted content is defined in the bill as an offense that “consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works” and has a total economic value, either to the copyright holder or the infringer, of at least $2,500.
Now keep in mind this is the criminal aspects of the law. You still are subject to face the copyright holder in civil court which allows them the default judgement of $250,000 per violation.