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Thursday, January 31

Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property ("PRO IP") Act of 2007 -- Speaks VOLUMES to our current "Intellectual State"

PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers

This is a great summary byDavid Utter:

Though the report on the House Judiciary Committee website noted how the PRO IP Act helps labor unions and industry groups, there isn't any mention of how this legislation benefits anyone who isn't dumping campaign contributions on the bipartisan supporters of the bill.

"This legislation is an important and necessary step in the fight to maintain our competitive edge in a global marketplace," Chairman John Conyers said in the statement.

With all due respect, Chairman Conyers, and distinguished members of the Committee, it is not. Adding layers to US laws and bureaucracy matters not one whit to the counterfeiters who ply their trade in China, Russia, and a host of other countries.

It doesn't benefit the rights of any American with regards to fair use of intellectual property. The Act certainly does a hell of a job criminalizing alleged copyright and trademark infringement. Jeremy Toeman commented best on this, on his heavily linked open letter to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Instead of protecting the wants and needs of the many by forcing big media firms to evolve and adapt to the new technologies, the laws sprung up to protect these companies and allow them to live in the older world. PRO IP is yet another example of such laws.
It is bad enough that we have so few major media companies. It is bad enough that they can exert financial pressure to dominate the movie theaters and the airwaves. It is bad enough that they control the enormous quantities of media we as Americans consume....individual creativity combined with the distribution power of the Internet is finally allowing people to slowly retake control of the media they consume.

Historically it is this effort, individual creativity, that our government has helped protect and thrive. Not the demands of the rich and famous. It is in fact ironic that the major media companies of today were built on the shoulders of enabling laws, not crippling laws


Read Jeremy Toeman's entire letter and please copy and send this to your congress critter per Mr. Toeman
(you know, just in case sanity doesn't prevail with our elected "American Intellectual Mouth Pieces" we call our Congress)

Here's CHAIRMAN Conyers on the subject
"This legislation is an important and necessary step in the fight to maintain our competitive edge in a global marketplace," Chairman Conyers said. "By providing additional resources for enforcement of intellectual property, we ensure that innovation and creativity will continue to prosper in our society."


Jeremy Toeman really makes the point here:

Historically, Congress never used to side with major media companies. Throughout the 20th century, our leaders addressed new issues based on the wants and needs of the American people. Lawsuits have emerged over virtually every technology innovation as it pertained to media and content, from vinyl through compact disk. In virtually every case, Congress always put the pressure on the traditional companies to learn how to grow and change based on new technologies. That is, however, until the emergence of the broadband Internet and the MP3 music compression format.

For some reason, still not clear to me, these two technologies together caused the government to effectively switch teams. Instead of protecting the wants and needs of the many by forcing big media firms to evolve and adapt to the new technologies, the laws sprung up to protect these companies and allow them to live in the older world. PRO IP is yet another example of such laws.


(and just because I can't keep my 500lb. Hi-Fi; the $$spent on Vinyl through the years, then the 8-tracks, then the cassetts, then the CDs, now the ipod-tune library -- I HAVE NO PROBLEMO "sharing" a tune that I've bought 10 times already!!!-- gotta wonder how much of that money I spent went to the artist - and I gotta wonder what Apple's gonna do with their $15 billion cash hoard)


Here are some links to a few sites that have been covering this "Act" since December:

House Committee hears the Cons of the PRO-IP Act:

The House today held a hearing on the new PRO-IP Act that beefs up intellectual property enforcement. Rick Cotton, a top NBC lawyer and representative for the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), called counterfeiting and piracy "a global pandemic" and "a dagger into the heart of America's future economic security." What the US needs, he said, is a "declaration of war." But not even the Department of Justice is convinced that PRO-IP, in its current form, is that sort of declaration.


Here's how Congress Proposes to Enhance IP Enforcement and Penalties:

the bill would establish an "Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative" in the White House. This office would coordinate IP enforcement activities through a number of government and international agencies. This office would also be charged with developing a "Joint Strategic Plan" to identify, disrupt, and/or eliminate persons and businesses involved in trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods and sharing information among relevant agencies. The plan would also work with other countries to strengthen IP enforcement and reduce the number of countries that fail to enforce anti-counterfeit and piracy laws.

The bill would also create an Intellectual Property Enforcement Division within the Justice Department and would appoint IP attach├ęs to work with foreign governments on anti-piracy efforts.


The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP... groan) Act of 2007
has the backing of many of the most powerful politicians on the House Judiciary Committee, including John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and "Hollywood" Howard Berman (D-CA).

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said in a statement, "seizing expensive manufacturing equipment used for large-scale infringement from a commercial pirate may be appropriate. Seizing a family's general-purpose computer in a download case, as this bill would allow, is not appropriate."




Yesterday from ars technica:

Copy a CD, owe $1.5 million under "gluttonous" PRO-IP Act
By Nate Anderson


Both Patry and Sohn attended a Copyright Office roundtable on statutory damages a few days ago, and Public Knowledge's staff attorney Sherwin Siy has posted a fascinating writeup of the closed-door session: Roundtable on Copyright Damages: "What are we doing here?"

William Patry is Google's top copyright lawyer (and the man who wrote a seven-volume treatise on the subject of copyright law), called the bill the most "outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the US."


AND FINALLY we hear from Attorney Patry (his own blog - nothing to do with google -- I even had to dig in a few pages to get an "update" on the PRO-IP happenings) -- I'll keep click click clicking away on your link Mr. Patry -- maybe you'll move up to page one on the google search by the end of the day!!



WELL SAID MR PATRY:
(Skip the first paragraph and the title of his post if you're sick of Reagan already)


The purpose of the amendment is not to clarify Congress's intent because Congress's intent is already clear; the purpose of the amendment is not to correct the courts, because the courts have done a pretty good job in interpreting the statute; the purpose of the amendment is not to provide needed flexibility in the award of damages because the current law already has tremendous flexibility; rather the purpose of the amendment is to hand a windfall to those who have too much already and who will never be satisfied with more.

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