John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

NBC Universal CEO: I Can Has Pro-IP Act?

If there was an Emmy Award for legislation production, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker would surely win it. Last October he called upon Congress to pass a bill that would create a dedicated intellectual-property enforcement bureau and today it’s looking more and more like he’s going to get it.

This week members of the House Judiciary Committee passed the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (called “PRO IP” groan…) Act of 2007, legislation that would create an “anti-piracy czar” at the White House level, a separate IP-enforcement division at the Justice Department and ratchet up already high civil penalties for copyright infringement.

The measure is backed by many of the most powerful politicians on the House Judiciary Committee, including John Conyers (D., Mich.), Lamar Smith (R., Texas) and “Hollywood” Howard Berman (D., Calif.), the content cartel and, of course, Zucker, who likes to tell everyone that it dramatically advances the cause of protecting innovation, technological invention and creativity.

Said Zucker, “This is such an important step in combating this incredibly serious piracy and counterfeiting problem that’s getting worse, not better.”

In Zucker’s eyes, maybe. But not in the eyes of consumer folks like Google Senior Copyright Counsel William Patry who calls Pro IP “the most outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the U.S.” and consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge which feels it is in sore need of adjustment.:

This bill takes already extraordinary copyright damages and increases them, expanding the threat of litigation intended to stifle competition and innovation. … Increasing penalties is one of the least necessary, and quite possibly counterproductive, actions the committee could take, particularly when current law is adequate to deal with most infringement issues and because the higher penalties serve only to force faster and larger settlements potentially from innovators. … Instead of following the course of this bill, the committee should look to the future, to a more realistic and rational copyright regime that can adapt pre-VCR copyright laws to a post-YouTube world.”

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