Introducing the U.S. Intellectual Property Czar by ProQuest

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                                                                                                                                                                  www.infotoday.com   November 2008




      Intellectual Property
Introducing the U.S. Intellectual Property Czar
by K. MATTHEW DAMES   |                       viduals and entities that are knowingly        The Usual Suspects                             cause it hurts the
                                              involved in the financing, production, traf-                                                  American economy.
                                                                                             Grant Approval

I
      n late September, U.S. citizens were    ficking, or sale of counterfeit or infringed
      considering several pressing issues     goods”; and “[s]trengthening the capacity          All the usual suspects signed up to        Undermining      K. Matthew Dames
      that would influence the country’s      of other countries to protect and enforce      sponsor the bill: Patrick Leahy of Ver-
future. Of course, the first issue was de-    intellectual property rights, and reduc-       mont (as Senate Judiciary Committee            Our Economic Future?
liberating the presidential candidacies       ing the number of countries that fail to       chairman); Arlen Specter of Pennsylva-             Just read a statement an industry
of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John       enforce laws preventing the financing,         nia (ranking member of the Senate Ju-          lawyer gave to News.com’s Declan Mc-
McCain, R-Ariz., and deciding who would       production, trafficking, and sale of coun-     diciary Committee); Lamar Alexander of         Cullagh when McCullagh reported the
become the country’s 44th president.          terfeit and infringed goods.”                  Tennessee (to protect the Nashville mu-        Senate bill had passed: “Over the last
   A second issue was the viability of the       In other words, most of what an Ameri-      sic industry); Barbara Boxer and Dianne        20 years, the flood of physical counter-
country’s financial system in light of sys-   can-based multinational corporation would      Feinstein of California (to protect Holly-     feit projects and the scale of digital
temic difficulties in the credit markets      do to protect its work (investigating alle-    wood and the rest of the California-based      theft (have) gone off the chart,” said
and the immediate and long-term fiscal        gations of infringement, working with          entertainment industry); and Charles           Rick Cotton, executive vice president
effect of a government bailout with a to-     foreign countries to combat infringement,      Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of          and general counsel of NBC Universal.
tal cost of near $1 trillion.                 suing infringers, and recouping dam-           New York (to protect the New York-based        “What drives (the U.S. economy are)
   A third issue was the recovery effort in   ages) is now part of the presidential Cab-     entertainment industry).                       precisely technical invention, innova-
the nation’s Gulf Coast region after Hur-     inet. So the costs of this work are now            The Senate passed the bill unani-          tion, and creativity—if we don’t protect
ricane Ike, which focused on the hope that    part of the federal government, which          mously on Friday, Sept. 26, and the House      that, we dramatically undermine our
the recovery there would be managed bet-      means the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing         of Representatives cleared its version of      economic future.”
ter than the U.S. government’s response       the work of private corporations that          the bill on Sunday, Sept. 28. This was the         Since this argument’s initial appear-
to Hurricane Katrina and the devastation      hold large IP portfolios.                      same weekend that both houses of Con-          ance in the 1980s, each of its tenets (the
in and around New Orleans. All of these          Perhaps we should investigate why           gress were negotiating the terms and           equation of copyrighted works with tan-
issues required congressional attention.      large, multinational IP holding companies      conditions of Treasury Secretary Henry         gible property; use of without permission
                                              such as Disney and Sony are not referred       Paulson’s proposal to authorize up to          is theft or infringement; “piracy” hurts
                                              to as “trolls,” while lesser-known IP hold-    $700 billion of federal money to buy           the American economy) has been chal-
Another ‘Sweetheart’ Deal                     ing companies such as NTP (which set-          mortgage-backed securities whose value         lenged, legally and empirically. In several
   But this dense docket did not stop Con-    tled a patent infringement lawsuit with        had dropped sharply.                           instances, these tenets have been proven
gress from granting the entertainment in-     BlackBerry) get smeared with that label.           At this writing, President Bush had        to be entirely false.
dustry yet another sweetheart deal: Pri-                                                     not indicated whether he would sign the            Yet Congress continues to give the en-
oritizing Resources and Organization for                                                     measure, but a veto would be unusual,          tertainment industry a legislative blank
Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PRO-IP).
                                              A Power Move                                   particularly with the entertainment in-        check virtually any time it asks for one.
   The primary objective of PRO-IP (S.            The passage of PRO-IP is a power move      dustry’s consistent (and successful) argu-     The list of entertainment industry-specific
3325) is to enlist and i
								
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