CACP piracy plan under House scrutiny

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WASHINGTON -- Proponents of a stronger, more centralized federal attack on piracy are hoping a new report that the House Judiciary Committee plans to examine Thursday provides a big commercial bang for the federal buck.

According to the cost-benefit analysis by Laura Tyson -- former chairwoman of the National Economic Council and a business professor at the University of California at Berkeley -- of a legislative initiative developed by the Coalition against Counterfeiting and Piracy, the cost to the federal government for tougher laws with a centralized leadership would run from $289 million-$489 million for the first three years of the program.

The FBI and other government sources say U.S. companies lose $225 billion each year to bootlegging. Tyson contends that the CACP initiative would reduce those losses by $18.4 billion-$36.8 billion in the first three years.

The legislation being considered Thursday closely tracks proposals of the CACP, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led organization that includes most of the nation's leading intellectual property companies, ranging from the automobile-parts makers and pharmaceutical firms to the motion picture studios. CACP funded the study.

This month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property "PRO IP" Act of 2007.

Among other things, the bill seeks to strengthen the substantive civil and criminal laws relating to copyright and trademark infringement and establish the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative in the White House.

Although the legislation doesn't include all of CACP's suggestions, NBC executive vp and general counsel Rick Cotton said it has the coalition's support. Cotton is CACP chairman and had a big hand in developing the coalition's recommendations.

"While language consistent with the original CACP proposals would have been preferable, we understand the sponsors' reasons for altering these proposals and believe they have struck a good balance between the need for stronger IP protection and the concerns of Internet service providers, grey marketers, the criminal defense bar, Internet commerce companies and others," Cotton said in testimony prepared for the committee.
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