In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, the Department of Justice and Department of Commerce express concerns with a provision in S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act.
They say that despite the bill’s good intentions, the way it is written, it would turn DOJ attorneys into pro bono copyright lawyers for big content providers.
They write in the letter that “Title 1’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.”
“At a time when U.S. taxpayers are on hook to rescue the financial industry, why should they also foot the bill for the content industry’s financial fees?” said Computer & Communications Industry Association President Ed Black. “We appreciate Justice and Commerce alerting Congress to this flaw and support the administration’s efforts to fix this bill. This content protection legislation isn’t ready for prime time.”
“This legislation would involve the government more deeply in what are often complicated disputes between industry and consumers. The DOJ’s resources are needed to fight the more serious problems including, crime, terrorism and antitrust abuses,” Black said.
“We urge members on a bipartisan basis to heed this letter. It is an instance in which the Administration’s position is in line with the public interest and that of consumers,” Black said.
The House has already passed a version of the IP protection legislation. The Senate is considering voting any day by unanimous consent on S. 3325, which was recently approved by the Judiciary Committee.