Anti-Piracy Czar to be Created in US Congress

On the heals of a critical victory for file-sharers in the United States, a new turn is unfolding that may be seen as a critical setback should it come to fruition.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

A new anti-piracy bill dubbed the ‘Pro-IP’ Bill would create an anti-piracy czar in the White House.

Earlier this week, the US file-sharing community won a key ruling which basically says that a song in a shared directory does not constitute copyright infringement.

While many eyes were focused in the courts, some eyes were looking at the white house. A report from introduced into Congress late last year by Democratic Congressman John Conyers Jr. and is currently receiving attention from the Department of Justice. From the report:

In addition to creating the position of IP czar, the bill would amend federal copyright law to add resources to the fight against piracy and raise the ceiling on damages that could be awarded by a civil court to a rights-holder whose work had been pirated.

The authority of the czar remains a point of contention. The Justice Department blasted the bill after it was introduced, calling it unnecessary and worrying that an enforcement position at the Cabinet level could become easily politicized.

“Establishing such an office would undermine the traditional independence of the Department of Justice in criminal enforcement matters,” department spokesman Peter Carr wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “Establishing such an office in [the White House] would codify precisely the type of political interference in the independent exercise of DOJ prosecutorial judgment that many members of Congress and senators have alleged over the last couple years.”

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, “The White House has very serious concerns with the legislation.”

While it may be a new idea to some, the concept isn’t necessarily new in the world – at least as something in the proposal stage. Last year, Canadian Liberal MP Don Bell proposed to have a Motion Picture secretariat in the House of Commons. It seems as though this is an instance where what is going on in Canada is happening in the United States – just about a mirror image. Citizens and organizations hate the fact that someone proposed to allow organizations to have direct lobbying power in the democratic process and the copyright industries are thrilled over the concept.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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