Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Department of Justice tell Congress to say no

The proposed Enforcement of Intellectual Property Right Act of 2008 has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been criticised by many who oppose the extension of copyright matters into criminal cases. People like the EFF, copyleft campaigners. Oh, yes, and the Department of Justice:

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.

The DOJ, it seems, are as puzzled as the rest of us why they should be spending public resources chasing after what has been long considered a civil matter.

The DOJ also points out that it could harm their ability to perform core duties:
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.

This might be the first time a law enforcement agency, rather than the newspapers or accused, have cried "hey, shouldn't we be out catching real criminals?"

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