Congress Shelves Online Piracy Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Although Congress made good on their efforts to combat camera phone voyeurism before adjourning for the year, they failed to act on increasing the penalties for online piracy and movie bootlegging; in what some observers see as a rebuff of Hollywood, and the major record labels – and interpret as a promising sign for consumers.

While the House and Senate both initially indicated a willingness to give the entertainment industry the stricter laws against recording films in theaters, and sharing music or video files online through Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, that they demanded, Republican lawmakers stalled on enacting new legislation in light of intense lobbying by consumer groups opposed to stricter regulations.

According to Mitch Bainwol, Chief Executive of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), there is an "enormous theft out there that is compromising the vitality of important American industries." Bainwol added that "there is a consensus that there is a problem. We broke down on how you define an answer."

Congress did, however, decide to fund several new prominent posts intended to assist the White House, the U.S. trade representative's office and the State Department in enforcing copyright law overseas, and will revisit the issue early next year. According to Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., "We do think we have a pretty broad consensus" in favor of measures such as the ones to ban the use of camcorders in theaters and increase prosecution of online pirates."

"What the federal government is saying," said Bainwol, "is that intellectual property is an important national priority, and we're going to step up our enforcement, and we're going to step up our coordination."