New act will protect intellectual property rights

WASHINGTON — Amid growing concern, showbiz and other copyright-dependent industries banded together to urge President Bush to ink a major intellectual property rights bill that Congress recently passed.

Bush’s signature on the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act seemed assured when the Senate greenlit the bill two weeks ago. (The House did it earlier this year.) But as more time passes — and as the clock winds down on the Bush administration — concern has arisen over the possibility that the president may not sign.

“We need the president to take the final step by signing the bill into law and leaving a lasting legacy to support America’s innovation economy,” said Tom Donohue, chief exec of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a speech to the fifth annual IP summit the chamber hosts. “Mr. President, you will be doing a great service for the nation’s innovators, workers and consumers by signing this legislation into law.”

Rick Cotton, exec VP of government relations and general counsel for NBC Universal, said the delay may be due to a provision in the PRO-IP Act that establishes a position inside the White House for coordinating and prioritizing U.S. worldwide antipiracy efforts. The administration had asked Congress for removal of that provision, arguing it would impede and interfere with existing efforts and authority. Congress kept the provision in.

“We think that’s the only hold-up,” Cotton said.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

In addition to establishing a White House IP czar, the PRO-IP Act increases federal resources for fighting counterfeiting and piracy and also ups penalties for bootleggers.

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