Both sides in the content-protection/fair-use-protection debate found something to like in the passage of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (Pro IP) by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.
The bill 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.
“We applaud the efforts of the House Judiciary Committee and, in particular, the leadership of the IP Subcommittee to continue pressing for better, more effective, more efficient enforcement of America’s intellectual-property rights,” said Patrick Ross, executive director of the Copyright Alliance. "This bill will provide much-needed resources and organization to enforcement efforts on foreign and domestic fronts."
The alliance includes broadcasters, producers, sports leagues, publishers (including Broadcasting & Cable's parent, Reed Elsevier) and others.
Public Knowledge, which advocates for protections for fair uses of copyrighted content, said it was pleased that the bill was amended 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.
Public Knowledge was also pleased that language was added to ensure that the Justice Department has to show a "substantial connection" between property it tries to seize and the infringing activity.
The bill still needs to pass in the full committee, and then get a floor vote. A Senate version of an enforcement-toughening bill, S. 2317, was introduced last fall, but there hasn't been any action on that bill to date.