A copyright bill scheduled to be considered tomorrow (Sept. 11) by the Senate Judiciary Committee takes an “unbalanced approach” that would create unintended harm to the public, a group of public-interest organizations told members of the Committee in a Sept. 10 letter.
The bill is S. 3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act. Background on the legislation is here:
One controversial provision of the legislation would give the Justice Department the additional authority to bring civil suits against copyright infringers. The DoJ now has the power to bring only criminal charges. According to the letter, this provision “would be an enormous gift of federal resources to large copyright owners with no demonstration that the copyright owners are having difficulties enforcing their own rights.”
The letter noted that the recording industry alone has threatened or filed more than 30,000 lawsuits, and asked: “Movie and television producers, software publishers, music publishers, and print publishers all have their own enforcement programs. There is absolutely no reason for the federal government to assume this private enforcement role.”
In addition, the groups argued that other provisions of the bill “subjects the property of unaffiliated, noninfringing third parties, such as online service providers, to forfeiture,” and allows for the impoundment of business records of an alleged infringer – depriving the person of the ability to mount a defense or even to carry on business before a court order is issued.
The groups signing the letter are:
American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
Consumer Federation of America
Digital Future Coalition
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Knowledge Ecology International
Medical Library Association
Special Libraries Association
The full text of the letter is here:
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at email@example.com or 405-249-9435.