President Bush signed into law today a bill that will create a centralized position in the executive branch, appointed by the president, to head up the fight against piracy and intellectual property violations. The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO-IP) is backed strongly by the usuals—MPAA, RIAA, etc.—and yet faced some pushback from the Justice Department and the Bush administration itself as it made its way through the House and Senate. So what does it all mean? The cabinet position will give a single point of authority to a job now handled by a scattered handful of different agencies and committees. It also calls for increased strength to prosecute and punish IP offenders. A provision that hoisted the responsibility for civil (in addition to criminal) prosecutions for IP cases on the Justice Dept. had to be thrown out first, as it would have effectively gave the already over-burdened folks at the DoJ the added enjoyment of being the entertainment companies' civil trial lawyers. Also, interestingly, the Bush administration apparently forgot about their earlier weariness to politicize a position (by appointment) so closely related to dealings of the legislative branch and the judiciary—because avoiding that kind of thing has been this administration's hallmark, right? What it will mean day-to-day for us modern web users remains to be seen, but creating a czar worked so well for the war on drugs, why not try it again? [CNET]
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