News Flash: Departments of Justice and Commerce Send Letter Opposing Senate IP Enforcement Bill

Late yesterday, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce sent a letter to Senators Leahy and Specter opposing S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008. Specifically, the letter says that the agencies are "deeply concerned" that

the proposed legislation will undermine existing intellectual property enforcement efforts by diminishing the effective use of limited criminal enforcement resources and creating unnecessary bureaucracy. It will also improperly micro-manage the internal organization of the Executive Branch.

The letter targets Titles I and IV of the bill as most offensive. Title I, as we have written about numerous times, would give the Justice Department authority to pursue civil lawsuits. Plain and simple, the Justice Department does not want to sped its valuable resources (or your tax dollars) to bring such suits. But they say it best in their own words:

Title I's departure from the settled framework...could result in Department of Justice presecutors 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.

...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.

To that, I say Amen!

Title IV of the Senate bill would place an IP "Czar" into the Executive Office of the President from the Commerce Department, where the position now resides. The agencies oppose this provision because it would "constitute[] a legislative intrusion into the internal structure and composition of the President's Administration." In other words, the agencies are asking the Senate not to further politicize an agency already infamous for being too political.

Let's hope Senators get the message. Stay tuned here for further developments.

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