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Bush Appoints Piracy Czar

Bush Appoints Piracy Czar
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Jul 26, 2005 2:02 PM PDT    Text size: 
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Bush has appointed Chris Israel, a former AOL/Time Warner executive and current deputy chief of staff at the Department of Commerce, to the newly-created post of coordinator of international intellectual property enforcement.

Israel has been asked to focus significant attention on China, which is responsible for 90 percent of DVD piracy in the world. The country joins Russia and Brazil on the roster of countries the Bush Administration has placed on its Intellectual Property Priority Watch List.

"American ingenuity and innovation are driving forces in our economy and we need to protect our ideas, both at home and abroad," Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said in a statement. "This new position will help us to be more aggressive and also help us to better coordinate our fight against intellectual property pirates."

Web pundits wasted no time decrying the appointment as a "corporate bribe," a misallocation of taxpayer resources, and a means for the current administration to criminalize everyone.

"Protect IP this, take away freedom of the press that, and soon you've made everyone a criminal," wrote Slashdot.org commentator Progman33. "It's very handy when everyone is a criminal. It makes ruling with an iron fist much easier."

Israel's appointment comes on the heels of recent attacks against ICANN, which he helped oversee at Commerce, including the charge that ICANN acted arbitrarily in domain extension assignation without consulting other countries.

Meanwhile, business leaders applaud the appointment.

"It is critical that other countries understand our resolve on IP protection and that they take the steps necessary to clamp down on piracy and protect the cycle of innovation that brings great benefits to consumers," Jim Prendergast, executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, said.

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