Senators introduce IPR bill

Industry players support anti-piracy effort

NEW YORK -- A group of senators introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that would empower the U.S. Attorney General to bring civil actions against copyright violators.

The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008 immediately had industry players, such as the MPAA and NBC Universal, voicing their support.

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman highlighted the importance of the anti-piracy measure to the overall U.S. economy, which has been sluggish.

"It's great to see bipartisan collaboration in the Senate on an issue that is so important, not only to the motion picture industry, which employs 1.3 million American workers and generates $30.25 billion in U.S. wages annually, but to our nation's economy," Glickman said.

"With its solid protections for intellectual property, this important legislation will help strengthen our economy and generate more American jobs." U.S. copyright industries account for more that 11% of the nation's gross domestic product, he pointed out.

NBC Universal "vigorously" applauded the bill, introduced by Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), co-author Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), as well as co-sponsors such as Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

"The act would drastically boost our government's ability to protect American innovation and creativity from the pernicious effects of the growing tidal wave of counterfeiting and digital theft that targets a broad array of critical U.S. industries and workers," the entertainment arm of GE said.

It highlighted that piracy enriches international organized crime syndicates. If the Senate passes the act, it must be reconciled with a similar bill passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives in May.

One key provision in the Senate bill is the establishment of a designated intellectual property enforcement coordinator, who would report directly to the president. Enforcement would be left to the FBI, which would be authorized to form a task force to fight copyright crime. Such a task force would also be created at the Department of Justice.