Justice Department Says It Doesn't Want To Be Hollywood's Police Force; Senate Removes That Provision

from the good-for-them dept

This doesn't come as a total surprise, because the Bush Administration had said something similar last year about the House's ProIP bill, but the Justice Department has come out very strongly against Senator Leahy's proposed bill that would let the Justice Department take on civil copyright lawsuits, effectively becoming Hollywood's private enforcement agency. What's impressive is how much of the argument seems to mimic the EFF's concerns:
We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure "restitution" damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights. First, civil copyright enforcement has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights....

Second, Title 1's departure from the settled framework above could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.

Third, the Department of Justice has limited resources to dedicate to particular issues, and civil enforcement actions would occur at the expense of criminal actions, which only the Department of Justice may bring. In an era of fiscal responsibility, the resources of the Department of Justice should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions.
The "good" news is that this statement has apparently convinced the Senate to remove that part of the bill. Senator Ron Wyden introduced an amendment that took out the part where the White House gets to handle civil cases, but the rest of the bill still moves forward (and don't be surprised to see future efforts push to get the Justice Department back in on private enforcement).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    greg roth, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 4:26am

    amen.

    that's all i can say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 4:33am

    Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense

    NT

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Erik Zeek, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 5:22am

    GPL enforcement

    Dang! I was looking forward to the BusyBox guys using the Justice Department to enforce the GPL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    MAtt, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 5:44am

    [from the article]
    The bill, nearly identical to the version the House passed last year, encourages government anti-piracy task forces, the training of other countries about IP enforcement and, among other things, institutes an FBI piracy unit.
    Let me fix that:
    The bill, nearly identical to the version the House passed last year, encourages government anti-communism task forces, the training of other countries militias and, among other things, institutes an CIA covert operations unit.
    Or, more to the current day:
    The bill, nearly identical to the version the House passed last year, encourages government anti-terrorism task forces, the training of other countries governments and, among other things, created the Transportation Safety Administration.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    bored now, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 6:35am

    Ron Wyden

    Wasn't he the guy that got cigarette lighters banned from planes, for a while?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    jonnyq, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Re: Ron Wyden

    They allow cigarette lighters on planes NOW? I guess if you disguise your toothpaste as a cigarette lighter...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 7:55am

    Good...now the DOJ can continue focusing its resources on pirates and "large scale" file sharers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Any ammendments about the IP Czar?

    The DOJ was also unhappy about the white house IP evangelist. Has congress shown any willingness to bend on this? A salaried position is a wasteful way to ensure that the president pays attention to an issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re. Ron Wyden

    fyi - the white house ip evangelist was already removed, and the forfeiture provisions Wyden criticized have been watered down. The only remaining onerous bit was allowing the Justice Dept to do the RI/MPAAs dirty work with your tax dollars and Wyden got that removed. Now the bill mostly focuses on folks who counterfeit Nikes or Handbags (or Pharmaceuticals, etc if you want to be scary) which is probably sensible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    NeoConBushSupporter, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 10:46am

    Thank the Lord

    Praise him . . . for blessing us with our fine brothers in the Justice Department. Good ole fashioned Republican reason saves the day again.

    VOTE McCain 2008 - CLOSED UNTIL CRISIS SOLVED AND WORLD SAVED

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This