Led by Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), a group of House members introduced a bill that would give the government crackdown on intellectual-property theft more firepower.
The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (“PRO IP”) Act of 2007, introduced Wednesday, would toughen criminal and civil penalties for copyright and trademark infringement, create an Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative (USIPER) at the White House and a separate IP-enforcement division at Justice and provide for IP officers to coordinate with other countries.
The crackdown includes everything from fake drugs to bogus handbags, but it also includes the movies, TV shows and other increasingly digital -- and, thus, more easily copied and distributed -- media content.
NBC Universal, which has been a leading voice on IP protection, gave props to the PROP IP act. "Piracy and counterfeiting have become a worldwide pandemic of crime,” the company said in a statement.”If we are to turn the tide, we must significantly step up our effort to protect intellectual property on many fronts. The bold mandate in this legislation for high-level executive leadership -- starting at the White House and the Department of Justice -- and for dedicated prosecutorial, investigative and international resources will dramatically advance the cause of protecting U.S. innovation, technological invention and creativity."
The House Intellectual Property Subcommittee plans to hold a hearing on the bill next week.