The Justice Department will work with the FCC and White
House to combat IP piracy. On Friday
(Feb. 12), the department announced the creation of an Intellectual Property Task
Force within the department, chaired by the deputy attorney general. Among its
goals will be to step up civil IP enforcement and "leverage" its
existing partnership with the FCC.
"The rise in intellectual property crime in the United States
and abroad threatens not only our public safety but also our economic
wellbeing. The Department of Justice must confront this threat with a strong
and coordinated response," said Attorney General Eric Holder in announcing
the task force.
That follows a December summit hosted by Vice President Joe
Biden, Holder and other administration officials and including the heads of
some major media companies concerned about the online theft of their creative
content including NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker, Warner Bros. Entertainment Chairman
Barry Meyer, Viacom Chairman Philippe Dauman and many others from the music and
That meeting had been requested by the vice president's
office to get more
information about the copyright industry.
The Task Force will also include representatives from
Holder, the associate attorney general; the Criminal, Civil, and Antitrust
Divisions; the Office of Legal Policy; the Office of Justice Programs; the
Attorney General's Advisory Committee; the Executive Office for U.S.
Attorneys, as well as the FBI.
The task force will work with Intellectual Property Coordinator
Victoria Espinal in the executive office of the president, whose post was
created as part of the ramping-up
of IP enforcement by both the White House and Justice at the direction of Congress.
Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn, who had criticized
that summit for the absence of representatives of fair use advocates like,
well, Public Knowledge, said she hoped the task force was targeting mass
illegal reproduction of CDs and DVDs, and not going after "noncommercial
consumer activity," which she said would be a mistake and "misuse of
Studios represented at the summit are definitely looking for
the task force to target noncommercial consumer activity if it is widespread
downloading of copyrighted online content that takes a toll on their own
"I think it is a major development in terms of progress
on enforcement policy," said NBCU Executive VP and General Counsel Rick
Cotton. The company has been one of the strongest proponents of IP enforcement
dating back to Bob Wright's commitment to the issue and continuing with Jeff
Zucker's increased visibility.
"It is a critically important outgrowth of
congressional passage of the Pro-IP act 18 months ago," said Cotton,
"and the commendable recognition by the Obama administration that this is
really a jobs issue."