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PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers

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The priorities of the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (“PRO IP”) Act of 2007 have been criticized on several points.

PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers
PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers

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.

John Conyers“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.

Chris Thomas argues that Toeman and Robert Scoble are wrong to argue against PRO IP. Toeman agreed with most of Thomas’ argument, but pointed out that PRO IP isn’t focused on protecting IP; it’s focused on making it easier to sue and penalize individuals.

The provisions of PRO IP touted by the Judiciary Committee include the creation of a new Executive Branch office to oversee IP enforcement, and the creation of a permanent Intellectual Property Division within the Department of Justice.

More bureaucracy, another well-connected insider getting a sweet gig to graze at the taxpayer trough (we’re betting whoever gets the new IP Enforcement Representative job will have a big media background), and absolutely no impact on foreign counterfeiting whatsoever appear to be the salient points of PRO IP.

But Heaven help the first college kid busted under PRO IP for MP3 trading. It’s going to be brutal.

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PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers
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  • http://www.livedigitally.com Jeremy Toeman

    David – great summary and thanks very much for your support on this. This is such an important issue, I hope we get some people to listen!

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