May 8, 2008 | By Richard Esguerra

House Passes Controversial PRO IP Act

Today, the House passed the controversial PRO IP Act (H.R. 4279) 410 to 11, with 12 representatives not voting.

While Public Knowledge and other groups successfully persuaded the House to remove the most damaging provision in the bill (seemingly written solely to increase damages in the RIAA's file-sharing lawsuit campaign), the bill would nonetheless significantly expand federal enforcement of copyright law.

The most outrageous provisions would create new and unnecessary federal bureaucracies devoted to intellectual property enforcement. None seems more ridiculous than language creating a Cabinet-level "IP enforcement czar" that would report to the President and coordinate enforcement efforts across government, a proposal that has been loudly opposed by the Department of Justice. Why is Congress spending our tax dollars on a new layer of officialdom that the cops themselves don't want or need?

Moreover, the bill also includes provisions — such as expanded forfeiture penalties and language "clarifying" that copyright registration is not required for criminal enforcement of the copyright -- that could be read to open the door to increased prosecution against individuals or innovators as well as large-scale commercial pirates.

The Senate has yet to introduce a companion bill, although some IP enforcement proposals in the Senate may serve as a basis for a bill. Stay tuned for more information should a bill turn up.

But there is a bright spot on the horizon -- Congress is finally revisiting important "orphan works" legislation that could expand the ability of technology users, archivists and libraries to store and exhibit works whose owners can't be found.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

How China is strong-arming coders to abandon their open source projects: https://eff.org/r.wso1

Aug 28 @ 4:20pm

Introducing a powerful new tool to help stop the California virtual currency license: https://eff.org/r.5qg6

Aug 28 @ 2:14pm

HTTPS encryption may have gotten the better of Russian censors trying to block a Wikipedia article: https://eff.org/r.vk6f

Aug 28 @ 1:55pm
JavaScript license information