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The primary objective of Prioritizing Resources and Organizations for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PRO-IP) (S. 3325) is to enlist and institutionalize the federal government's assistance in investigating, prosecuting, and punishing intellectual property (IP) infringement on behalf of US companies with sales that chiefly come from material subject to copyright, patent, or trademark protection. The passage of PRO-IP is a power move that is audacious in scope, and if it was done in virtually any other context, folks would call it straight "gangsta" in execution: moved through both houses of Congress and passed stealthily, while other larger issues were holding broader attention. The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Friday, September 26, and the House of Representatives cleared its version of the bill on Sunday, September 28.
InformationToday 21 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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