updated 04:50 pm EDT, Mon October 13, 2008
Bush Signs PRO IP Act
US President George Bush on Monday signed the PRO-IP Act into law, increasing the federal government's attempts to crack down on copyright violations and other intellectual property infringement in the country. The Act will bring in a cabinet member dedicated to improving copyright protection and also increases punishments for both basic copyright violations as well as physical counterfeits.
The bill was primarily supported by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, both of whom have pressed for direct government action on their behalf in the past and who support measures such as Internet provider-level content filtering.
However, the measure has seen opposition from both the Justice Department and initially the Bush cabinet itself. The Department is concerned that PRO-IP effectively sidesteps its decisions on the US government's approach to copyright, while the executive branch has resisted calls to allow the Justice Department to sue violators by itself.
This last move is widely believed to have been prompted by the RIAA, which itself has sued individuals for alleged infringement, but has been rejected under claims that it would put a burden on the federal government to police copyright when the regular, local court system already fulfills that role.
Private critics, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have resisted the measure outright and have often argued that PRO-IP is an attempt to legislate major labels' and studios' views on copyright.