(Source: California State Bar -- IP Section: www.calbar.ca.gov/ipsection)
H.R. 4279, Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007, or “PRO-IP,” which is pending in the House of Representatives, creates an intellectual property division within the Department of Justice and an intellectual property office within the Executive Office of the President.
PRO-IP would also increase statutory damages in copyright cases by letting copyright holders recover individually for each work in a copyrighted compilation. For example, each song on a CD could be counted as a separate infringement for the purpose of calculating statutory damages.
Pro-IP was introduced to the House on December 5, 2007 and presented to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property on December 13, 2007. At that hearing, consumer rights group Public Knowledge argued that statutory damages already impose disproportionate penalties for infringement and pointed out that copyright owners can already get actual damages in those cases where statutory damages are not enough. A Department of Justice attorney said she was concerned that a new executive office of IP enforcement would undermine DOJ independence.
On the other hand, the bipartisan committee sponsoring PRO-IP said it will stem what one representative called the “tsunami” of counterfeiting and piracy. The bill is supported by some labor unions and industry groups. It would also, of course, be a boon to plaintiffs’ lawyers, who can collect exponentially more damages on behalf of their clients, and an additional hammer over the heads of alleged infringers.
For some additional information:
Text of the bill is at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.4279
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Press Release:http://judiciary.house.gov/newscenter.aspx?A=887
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Hearing Page with Webcast:http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings.aspx?ID=191
Some Commentary:Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy: http://www.pr-inside.com/announcement-from-the-coalition-against-r351401.htm
Jim Hoffa, Teamsters, testimony in favor of PRO-IP: http://sev.prnewswire.com/entertainment/20071213/DC0983113122007-1.html
LA Times Editorial: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-ed-ip23dec23,0,1049654.story?coll=la-opinion-leftrail
Arts Technica Commentary: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080129-statutory-damages-not-high-enough.htmlhttp://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080205-white-paper-pro-ip-acts-damage-increases-are-dangerous.html
EFF Commentary: http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2007/12/pro-ip-act-increase-infringement-penalties-and-drastically-expand-government-enforhttp://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2008/01/update-pro-ip-act-roundtable-statutory-damages