Bush Administration Declines to Help RIAA
Date: Friday, September 26 @ 06:27:23 PDT
Spend your own money, Cary
A bill going through Congress, the "Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008", has been in committee and although it was introduced back in July, it's just getting comments back and one part has got a fairly negative reaction from the DOJ and President Bush.
At issue are Titles I and IV of the bill. Title I would have given the DOJ the authority to pursue civil lawsuits (a rather alarming prospect actually). Fortunately, the DOJ thinks very little of the idea:
We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure "restitution" damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights.
First, civil copyright envorcement has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights...
Second, Title I's departure from the settled framework above could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.
In other words, the DOJ does not think it prudent to spend taxpayers money prosecuting file sharers, just so the RIAA can win awards. The DOJ rightly notes that the resources of the DOJ "should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions."
Bad enough the RIAA is gaming the existing system. The last thing the country should do is add more taxpayer money on this nonsense.
This is not to condone illegal file sharing - we don't do it, and you shouldn't either. However, using taxpayer money to obtain civil penalties to line the pockets of the fat cats in the recording industry is even more wrong.
The Executive Branch disagreed with the bills provision for an "IP Czar" to reside on the President's cabinet, as this is Congressional meddling with the makeup of the Executive Branch. Fair enough.
The bill is being sponsored by Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy. If you feel strongly about this, please make sure to write to your congresspeople.