House bill has anti-piracy czar

pile of CDs

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Hollywood complains it loses billions of dollars to people who illegally copy movies and music. The studios could get a little help from Washington. A House committee has passed a bill that would stiffen penalties and create a new cabinet-level position, an anti-piracy czar. According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department hates the idea. Janet Babin reports from our Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: The bill's got the support of major content providers. The Washington Post cites NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker as lead backer. But tech companies that carry that content on their Web sites would likely oppose it -- it could force them to take more responsibility for copyright infringement. And the Justice Department's against it too. The DOJ fears a cabinet-level copyright czar could undermine its power. Recent attempts at patent reform have failed to get off the ground, but most of the proposals would have diminished intellectual property rights. Duke University Law professor Arti Rai says this new bill's different.

Arti Rai: Much of the impetus for this bill is premised on the idea and the reality that other countries, particularly China, are violating copyright quite flagrantly, and so, therefore, we need more protection.

Not that we're going to get it. It's an election year. And with the White House and the Justice Department against action, it's likely the bill's just meant as a symbol to scare content pirates out of the business.

In Durham, N.C., I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace

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