President George Bush last week signed the PRO-IP Act into law. The legislation increases 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 legislation’s chief backers were the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 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.
The legislation was opposed by both the Justice Department and initially the Bush cabinet itself. It was feared that PRO-IP effectively sidesteps its decisions on the U.S. government’s approach to copyright, while the executive branch has resisted calls to allow the Justice Department to sue violators by itself.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a critic of the legislation, argued that PRO-IP is an attempt to legislate major labels’ and studios’ views on copyright.
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