The Senate Friday passed a version of an intellectual-property bill after only one of two provisions was removed that drew strong opposition from the Bush administration.
The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act was introduced in July with the support of Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee’s chairman and ranking member, respectively.
It would create a post in the White House to coordinate enforcement of IP laws by various government agencies; would require coordinating with Congress to develop a strategic play to combat IP theft; and would boost resources for IP enforcement -- all similar to provisions in the House PRO-IP Act, which passed by a wide margin in May.
It would also, as originally proposed, have given the Justice Department the power to bring civil cases against suspected copyright infringers. Currently, the DOJ can only pursue criminal prosecutions and must rely on aggrieved copyright owners to file civil suits. That is the provision that was absent from the version that passed the Senate Friday.
Earlier this week, the Departments of Justice and Commerce opposed both of those provisions, including saying that the former violated separation of powers.
A House version that does not give Justice civil authority but would create the White House post already passed that body, so the Senate version now more closely aligns with that.
Word was that the House could pass the Senate version later Friday, although whether the president would sign it remains to be seen.
Commerce and Justice said they "strongly oppose" Congress creating the intellectual-property-enforcement coordinator in the executive office of the president, adding that "the statutory creation of an EOP coordinator with the duties described in the bill constitutes a legislative intrusion into the internal structure and composition of the president's administration."