'Copyright Czar' Bill Passes the Senate

Christopher Karwowski
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate today approved the creation of a new cabinet-level position that will enforce copyright laws.

The House of Representatives may take up the legislation quickly, with it being slated for possible discussion tomorrow.

As reported by Wired News, the "copyright czar" position is part of a larger bill dealing with intellectual property. Lawmakers dropped a disputed portion of the bill that would have authorized the Justice Department to sue on behalf of copyright holders.

The proposed bill would install an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" whose appointment would require Senate confirmation. The position would report directly to the Executive Branch and Congress.

Among the bill's other provisions is the creation of separate FBI unit that would be authorized to confiscate equipment used in piracy operations.

The proposed legislation is strongly supported by media companies, film studios, the recording industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"This is a win for both parties and, more importantly, for America's innovators, workers whose jobs rely on intellectual property, and consumers who depend on safe and effective products," Tom Donohue, the chamber's president and CEO told Wired News.

John Stagliano of Evil Angel Productions, who recently settled a copyright infringement case, thinks differently. "If there were stronger laws about the torrent sites — which was our problem — if this were criminal instead of civil, that would be interesting," Stagliano said. "There are no additional penalties that I can see. They're not making this any easier… I just don't like the government getting any bigger."

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