News U.S. Copyright Law That Allows Equipment Seizures Signed
posted on 2008-10-14 05:21 EDT
On Monday, United States President George W. Bush signed into law the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP) Act, which will allow authorities to seize property in civil copyright cases and will create an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" position to oversee the government's efforts in copyright enforcement.
An earlier version of the bill, then known as the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, had included a provision which would have allowed the Justice Department to bring civil lawsuits against intellectual property infringers on behalf of content owners. A second provision would have counted individual songs on an album as separate works if they were created by different artists, and thus would have dramatically increased the penalties an infringer would face. Both of these provisions were removed before the bill reached the president.
Certain provisions did survive which would allow for seizure of "property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part to commit or facilitate" copyright or trademark infringement. Broadly interpreted, these provisions could apply to computers used for file-sharing video and audio content. The final version of the bill had passed the Senate on September 26 by unanimous consent and had passed the House of Representatives on September 28 by a 381 to 41 margin.
In a separate development last week, Canada's Conservative Party's election platform promises to re-introduce copyright-reform legislation that would increase the fines for unauthorized downloads of copyrighted materials. The party's proposed legislation would also outlaw attempts to circumvent digital rights management schemes, just as America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act has made most forms of circumvention illegal. Conservative Party's earlier attempt to introduce copyright legislation met heavy resistance and was quietly dropped earlier this year.