Bush Signs PRO IP Act Into Law

The PRO IP Act increases the statutory awards that can be awarded in civil counterfeiting cases, strengthens remedies available in the prosecution of criminal cases involving piracy and counterfeiting, and enhances the resources available for the Department of Justice to combat IP theft.

The PRO IP Act also creates a high-ranking IP czar to be appointed by the Senate and report directly to the President. The first person to fill this role will likely be appointed by the next president.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) both backed the bill.

"By becoming law, the PRO IP Act sends the message to IP criminals everywhere that the U.S. will go the extra mile to protect American innovation," said Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

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However, the advocacy group Public Knowledge spoke out against the bill, arguing that the fair use of copyrighted material was already shrinking.

Public Knowledge was most ardent in opposing a measure that would allow for the seizure of devices used in piracy.

"Let's suppose that there's one computer in the house, and one person uses it for downloads and one for homework. The whole computer goes," said Public Knowledge spokesman Art Brodsky, Reuters reported.

Brodsky goes on to argue that the PRO IP Act goes too far, allowing groups like the MPAA and RIAA to take alleged pirates to court.

"There's already lots and lots of penalties for copyright violations," Brodsky said. "They've got all the tools they need."