Groups Weigh In On Intellectual Property Protection Act

The PRO-IP Act, signed this week by President Bush, increases enforcement and raises penalties for copyright infringement.
Advocacy groups wasted no time weighing in on a new intellectual property protection act that President Bush signed into law this week.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO-IP Act) of 2008 gained support from Democrats and Republicans, both branches of Congress, and a wide variety of industry groups, though not all of them. The act increases enforcement abilities and raises penalties for copyright infringement.

Copyright Alliance executive director Patrick Ross praised Bush for signing the bill.

"Increased copyright enforcement, combined with better coordination of intellectual property policy across the federal government, will be a boon to all of us who love creative works," he said in a statement. "As intellectual property rights are enforced, U.S. artists and creators can maintain their leading role in the world of producing creative works that enrich our culture and drive our economy."

He said the law is especially important now that the economy is the highest concern for policymakers and families.

"It is worth noting that the theft of intellectual property costs the U.S. billions of dollars in lost revenue and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs," Ross said.

He pointed to Stephen Siwek's report commissioned by the Institute for Policy Innovation in saying that more than 11 million Americans are employed in copyright-related jobs, yet the United States loses nearly 400,000 jobs every year due to piracy and counterfeiting.

"This important new law will provide additional tools to combat this reality," he said.

The National Music Publishers Association also predicted economic benefits. "This important law will help ensure America's intellectual property rights, which support the creativity and innovation that drive our economy and boost job creation, are better enforced on a global scale," NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said in a statement, adding that "music publishers and songwriters are profoundly grateful."

Public Knowledge, a grassroots group, opposed the bill. Its president and co-founder, Gigi Sohn, said it was unnecessary.

"It simply adds penalties to a copyright regime that already is out of balance," Sohn said in a statement. "We wish an orphan works bill could have passed along with this one. We will continue to work for a balance in copyright law."

Orphan works are copyrighted works, including books, music, records, and films, whose owner can't be located.

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Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer