House Passes PRO-IP Act

Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 Toughens Enforcement of Intellectual-Property Crimes

The House Thursday passed a studio-backed bill that would toughen enforcement of intellectual-property crimes like illegally copying and distributing TV shows over the Web.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (or PRO-IP Act, for short), which passed in the House Judiciary Committee only a little over one week ago, puts additional teeth -- resources and organizational structure -- in the Justice Department's pledge to crack down on intellectual-property crimes, including an office in the White House devoted to the issue. A new Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative would be established in the executive office of the White House to coordinate enforcement.

In response to concerns that the White House might try to dictate policy from that perch, the bill makes clear that the role of the White House representative is to coordinate, not to make policy.

The bill was amended in subcommittee to remove a provision that would have awarded multiple statutory damages for compilations that infringed on copyright. That would have meant that someone who copied a protected CD could have been liable for statutory damages for each song -- something music labels pushed hard for.

“We applaud the members of the House of Representatives for passing the PRO-IP Act, H.R. 4279," said Dan Glickman, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, in response to its passage. "It is a comprehensive, bipartisan measure that will strengthen our nation’s economy and generate more jobs for American workers by bolstering protections for intellectual property.”

He added, “Given the difficult economic times we face, the PRO-IP Act is welcome by both the business and labor communities because it can improve our nation’s economic outlook. I hope the Senate will move quickly to pass similar legislation.”

A Senate version of an enforcement-toughening bill, S. 2317, was introduced last fall.

“The U.S. House has taken aggressive action to ensure that America’s innovation industries continue creating jobs and crossing new scientific and technological frontiers that will lead to solutions for global challenges,” said Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, reacting to the bill’s passage. “The ball is now in the Senate’s court to make sure that this 110th Congress is remembered for taking the necessary steps to protect America’s role as a global leader in innovation."