Czar Wars

Intellectual property watchdog


Americans aren't just getting a new president this year. We're getting a new czar. On October 13, President George W. Bush signed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, or PRO-IP. It creates the final new high-level post to be introduced in the Bush era: the United States intellectual property enforcement representative, whom you will soon be calling the "IP czar."

The law also doubles the fines that can be levied against people engaging in illegal file sharing, and makes it easier to seize property (such as computers) used to violate copyrights. Lawyers and activists in the free culture movement, which opposes overly restrictive copyright laws, managed to excise some other provisions from the original bill, including a measure that would have handed over any damages won in the government's lawsuits to the record industry.

Don't expect an Obama administration to eliminate the new post. The Democrats have close ties to the entertainment industry, so there's little reason to believe they'll be any less aggressive about enforcing IP law.