More posts to come on the Patent Troll Tracker saga later today, but a few things other things worth reporting this morning:
- This morning, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4279, the so-called PRO-IP bill. The entertainment industry is crowing about that one, which will give them a long-sought after prize: a government commitment to federal copyright cops at the Department of Justice.They’ll not only get a new “Intellectual Property Enforcement Division,” but the bill would carve out money from existing grants to combat computer crime and earmark part of that to police copyright infringement. Basically, the bill is meant to put some FBI muscle behind those FBI warnings on movies and TV shows.
Government lawyers, of course, would be far cheaper copyright cops than litigators at Hollywood law firms like Munger Tolles & Olson or Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp; especially when taxpayers foot the bill. And the industry might eventually get what it really wants—enforcement of criminal penalties.
The bill was sponsored by Detroit Democrat John Conyers. Only 11 Representatives voted against the bill on the floor—seven Republicans and four Democrats, including Silicon Valley Democrat Zoe Lofgren and former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
- Before they took a mile, they gave an inch: the House IP subcommittee passed H.R. 5889, an “orphan works” bill that removes the massive penalties associated with copyright infringement if the work belongs to a copyright holder who can’t be identified or found. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman, known as Hollywood's man in Washington. The bill moves ahead to the full Judiciary Committee. If passed, it goes into effect in 2013. Freedom to use orphan works has long been a cause of library activist like Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle.
- Speaking of the Internet Archive, it was revealed yesterday that the FBI attempted to strongarm the non-profit into handing over subscriber information through the use of a national security letter. With the help of EFF attorneys, Kahle resisted, giving us the rare opportunity to take a look at what a (redacted) national security letter looks like. The letters have gag orders attached to them, so as EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl says, ""One of the most important victories here is that we can even say this letter was received." Recorder reporter Evan Hill has the Internet Archive story on today's Law.com newswire; EFF has more documents in Internet Archive v Mukasey, 07-6346-CW (N.D. Cal).
Update 5/28: This post split in two as a housekeeping measure; patent news half is here.