President Bush signs anti-piracy bill, creates IP czar

U.S. President George W. Bush has signed an anti-piracy bill into law that will help companies protect their intellectual property (IP), like movies, software and music.  He also created a new government intellectual property czar, who will serve as a high-level worker designed to be an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" for the White House.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) supported the bill and are happy it was signed into law.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also supported the bill, which has seen multiple modifications before being signed into law.

"By becoming law, the PRO-IP Act sends the message to IP criminals everywhere that the U.S. will go the extra mile to protect American innovation," U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Tom Donohue said.

Civil and criminal intellectual property laws will be tightened, along with stricter penalties on IP violators.

"At a time of financial and economic turmoil, streamlining the government’s efforts to protect one of our most important assets — intellectual property — makes good economic sense," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), who was the bill’s sponsor.

The new law gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) and Justice Department more resources in their attempt to battle against piracy in the United States.  The Justice Department is expected to create a new crime division specifically to enforce IP protection, although it is unknown when the division will be created.

Several organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge, have paid close attention to the bill.  Public Knowledge publicly said fair use rights for copyrighted material has already been declining over the years, and said that it would’ve "been nice to have something to benefit the public and artists instead of big media companies."