Intellectual property just got a potentially powerful voice an effective copyright czar who will hold a cabinet position at the White House. The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, which President George Bush signed on Monday, increases penalties for intellectual-property infringement and provides the Justice Department with more resources to coordinate federal and state efforts against counterfeiting and piracy, CNET reports. The bill covers everything from film and TV to music, drugs and software.
But there is no clear priority set for which intellectual properties would be most heavily protected so you can imagine much of that will be left to industries with the most powerful lobbyists (read: pharmaceutical companies). The presidential appointee will chair a committee comprised of representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, the DOJ, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Homeland Security and more. The Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator's main role will be to plan how best to tackle copyright infringement with the aid of law-enforcement agencies. However, he or she will have no direct control over how law enforcement agencies operate or prosecute. The DOJ lobbied profusely against the measure, saying the position would be redundant with its own responsibilities and counterproductive to work it has already accomplished. Intellectual property in the U.S. is worth more than $5 trillion a year of which nearly $250 billion is lost to counterfeiting and piracy, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
By Matt Kapko