December 14, 2007

PRO IP Hearing Notes [2:53 pm]

Macworld | Lawmakers raise questions about copyright enforcement bill

A handful of lawmakers, law professors and consumer groups have raised objections to a new U.S. copyright bill that could significantly increase the fines for copyright infringement.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (or PRO IP Act), debated before a congressional subcommittee Thursday, would allow courts to assess copyright infringement damages for each piece of a compilation or derivative work found to infringe copyright, instead of treating the compilation as one infringement.

[...] The bill would also make it easy for courts to forfeit computers and other property alleged to be used for infringement in civil copyright lawsuits, and it would allow the U.S. government to pursue criminal copyright enforcement before the creator registers a work or product with the U.S. Copyright Office.

“While we agree that enforcement of intellectual property laws is essential to encouraging creativity, certain provisions in the proposed act risk undermining this essential goal by threatening consumers with an overbroad and inapposite enforcement regime,” [Gigi] Sohn told the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. “These provisions of the bill …. represent a step away from a rational, realistic copyright regime.”

The bill will hurt the consumer electronics industry, with companies that make recording and copying devices scared to introduce new products because of a fear of lawsuits, added Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat.

“The effect on innovation will be real and it will be adverse,” Boucher said.

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