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Bush Signs Law Creating ‘PiracyCzar’

PRO-IP Acts makes cabinet-level piracy position on par with the US drug czar.

President Bush signed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO-IP Act) into law yesterday which increases penalties for intellectual-property infringement and provides the Justice Department with more resources to coordinate federal and state efforts against counterfeiting and piracy. The bill covers everything from film and TV to music, drugs and software.

The White House had initially opposed the bill out of concern that Congress was making unconstitutional attempts to create executive branch positions and a reluctance to divert precious Justice Dept resources towards civil prosecutions for copyright infringement. After the latter proposal was removed from the bill, the President apparently found the legislation palatable enough to sign.

“President Bush has worked to ensure that there is a level playing field worldwide for American businesses and innovators, free of counterfeiting and piracy,” reads the White House press release.

What I think was his main intent with signing the PRO-IP Act was to please the powerful business concerns who lobbied so heavily for its passage.

“What the Congress recognized and the president has ratified is the critical importance of innovation, technical invention, and creativity to the US economy,” said Rick Cotton, executive VP of NBC Universal. “This law will dramatically move the priority of IP enforcement up the agenda in critical ways.”

I’m sure it’s vital to the US economy that we now have a Copyright Czar who can waste taxpayer money on trying to rid the Internet of pirated “Heroes” or “The Office” episodes.

“By becoming law, the Pro-IP Act sends the message to IP criminals everywhere that the U.S. will go the extra mile to protect American innovation,” said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This is the same Tom Donohue who had even gone so far as to recently equate interference with copyright laws with Marxism.

The presidential appointee will chair a committee comprised of representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, the DOJ, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Homeland Security and more. The Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator’s (IPEC) main role will be to plan how best to tackle copyright infringement with the aid of law-enforcement agencies. However, he or she will have no direct control over or how law enforcement agencies operate or prosecute.

“The PRO IP Act broadly reflects the principles of STOP! (The Strategy Targeting Organized Piracy) and helps to reinforce and codify the Administration’s accomplishments in protecting and strengthening the rights of American workers, consumers, and innovators,” continues the White House press release.

Why is that American workers are always the first people as being helped by any signed legislation? It wasn’t American workers who lobbied for the bill any more than it’s American workers who it most protects. The people who worked so hard to get it signed into law are the same ones who stand to gain the most – the entertainment and pharmaceutical industry.

Even more galling is where the press release reads: “The PRO-IP Act protects the work of American innovators, strengthens the rule of law, and will help keep American families safe.”

Safe from what? Bootleg copies of “Iron Man?” Congress has already made sure we can’t import cheaper medications from other countries like Canada which sets price restrictions, so what exactly are American families being kept “safe” from?

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