EFF takes on the PRO-IP Act – H.R.4279

May 12, 2008

I missed this when it first came out a couple of days ago: the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Richard Esquerra offers another insightful critique of the so-called PRO-IP Act, also known as H.R.4279.

Here’s my favorite piece of Esquerra’s argument against the bill:

The most outrageous provisions would create new and unnecessary federal bureaucracies devoted to intellectual property enforcement. None seems more ridiculous than language creating a Cabinet-level “IP enforcement czar” that would report to the President and coordinate enforcement efforts across government, a proposal that has been loudly opposed by the Department of Justice. Why is Congress spending our tax dollars on a new layer of officialdom that the cops themselves don’t want or need?

Gee, that one’s easy: because the content industry lobby groups and big telecommunications firms pay the representatives (ahem, John Conyers) good money for their favors.

But I digress…here’s more from Esquerra (with a little emphasis added):

Moreover, the bill also includes provisions — such as expanded forfeiture penalties and language “clarifying” that copyright registration is not required for criminal enforcement of the copyright — that could be read to open the door to increased prosecution against individuals or innovators as well as large-scale commercial pirates.

Increased prosecution against individuals and innovators?! As if the courts weren’t already clogged with the specious arguments of record companies, software firms, etc.

Until someone adequately explains otherwise, I’m going to maintain that H.R.4279 is a digital pork fest thinly disguised as actual policy-making.

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