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Piracy law unveiled in Washington

Intellectual Property Act introduced in House

A bipartisan bill to expand intellectual property protection by establishing an IP office inside the White House and a permanent intellectual-property division within the Justice Dept. has been introduced in the House Judiciary Committee.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 is aimed at counterfeiting and bootlegging, currently estimated to cost $500 billion-$600 billion a year in lost sales worldwide.

According to an announcement Wednesday from House Judiciary chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the bill would do the following:

n??stablish the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative in the Executive Office of the President to enhance nationwide and international coordination of intellectual property enforcement efforts.

n?Authorize the creation within the Justice Dept. of a permanent IP Division, the purpose of which would be to improve law enforcement coordination.

n?Provide for the appointment of intellectual property officers to work with foreign countries in their efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy.

“This legislation is an important and necessary step in the fight to maintain our competitive edge in a global marketplace,” Conyers said in a statement. “By providing additional resources for enforcement of intellectual property, we ensure that innovation and creativity will continue to prosper in our society.”

Motion Picture Assn. of America topper Dan Glickman welcomed the announcement, saying, “From counterfeit medicine and fake automobile parts to pirated movies and knockoff handbags, the ill effects of intellectual property theft are felt across many sectors of the U.S. economy. I am pleased to see a concerted effort by Congress to address this growing problem.”

The Copyright Alliance, whose members include the MPAA and other intellectual property-based businesses, said: “There is no question that the authors of this bill recognize copyright’s contributions to creativity, jobs and growth, and the Copyright Alliance stands ready as an educational resource as the (bill) moves forward.”

The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the bill next week, according to Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), a member of the committee and a supporter of the legislation.

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