On the American front this time.
The Intellectual Property Protection Act (H.R. 2391) is currently under consideration. Individual pieces have already been approved, though the overall bill has not yet been. There are a number of things in here, to varying degrees of bad and even a little good, that are worth knowing about.
If passed, a few highlights:
- The Justice Department will have the authority to file civil actions against copyright infringers. This means federal funds will be used to enforce private rights of action. This probably means we can expect “copyright police” to be on the horizan. Senate was unanimous in their support of this PIRATE Act.
- “Offering for distribution” infringing material will be a criminal violation. That means jail sentences, not just a fine, plus a criminal record. Note, “offering for distribution” does not require that any actual copying and distributing takes place. Passed the House.
- H.R. 4589 The Family Movie Act, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. This renders it illegal to skip the commercials at the beginning of a video tape or DVD. It will also be illegal to skip objectionable scenes, unless a notice is displayed stating “the motion picture is altered from the performance intended by the director or copyright holder of the motion picture.” If passed, we can expect new commercial DVDs to be crippled during promotional tracks; beyond that, I can’t imagine how they’d even enforce this,
- H.R. 5136 The Preservation of Orphan Works Act. Finally some good news, until you realize that this is one of the few pieces that was not passed when individually introduced. This would allow libraries to make copies of works which, though still covered by copyright (if in the last 20 years of term), are “no longer commercially exploited and available at a reasonable price.”
HR2391, “Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2004”, hosted by Tech Law Journal