New IP Bill Signed into Law

On Monday, President Bush signed into law [press release] a bill that will provide for additional intellectual property (IP) rights enforcement resources and stronger penalties for violators of those rights. The “Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008″ [full text] allows treble damages to be awarded against counterfeiters of protected goods, strengthens criminal laws relating to IP infringement, and allows the government broad authority to seize any materials or goods relating to infringement investigations.

It also creates a position for an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, a presidential appointee who would coordinate IP investigations among government agencies (dubbed the “IP Czar”). The Recording Industry Association of America, in an obvious PR move, had strongly supported the bill, saying that it will help protect the interest of copyright holders. On the other side, the public advocacy group Public Knowledge has criticized the bill, saying that it will exacerbate problems with existing U.S. IP laws which put too many restrictions on the use of what should be public information. Reuters has more.While the majority of our reading in class covers the U.S., it is important to note that other countries are also increasing efforts to expand the scope of protected intellectual property.  Canada for example,

 introduced new federal copyright legislation [full text] in July, designed to strengthen penalties against infringement.

In February, the International Intellectual Property Alliance(IIPA), released a report [full text] asserting that China, Russia and Canada are the main violators of U.S. copyright law.

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