S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Act of 2008, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier today, 15-4. The bill was amended to remove, among other things, the provision expanding penalties for circumventing DRM. Other amendments removed potentially problematic new offenses involving transshipment, and still others added protective orders for private or confidential data recovered when servers are seized or forfeited.
Still in the bill is a section authorizing the federal government to sue infringers in civil court in order to turn the money over to copyright holders. This provision lets the Attorney General take advantage of the lower standard for burden of proof in civil cases—here, the government only needs to prove infringement with a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that it's more likely than not that infringement occurred, as opposed to the usual criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And the only penalty available under such cases is restitution—the government turns over the amount of damages to the copyright holder. This is a win-win for the content industry, which now can get money damages while taking advantage of the legal services of the Justice Department.