The fine folks at the MPAA and RIAA are celebrating this morning after President Bush signed The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008, or PRO IP Act. The Act would strengthen already controversial (and in some cases utterly dysfunctional) US copyright laws, create the government position of "Copyright Czar," and perhaps most controversially
, grant authorities broad new forfeiture rights, including the ability to seize ISP or consumer equipment in piracy raids.
There has been ample criticism about how completely bogus data was created by lobbyists and passed among government agencies as fact in order to pave the way for the bill. Specifically controversial has been debunked claims
that the bill's passage would create some 750,000 new jobs. The White House, in a prepared statement
, appears to keep that theme going -- suggesting that a bill passed largely to protect the dying business models of the nation's largest entertainment conglomerates, is really about protecting American consumers and innovation:
President Bush has worked to ensure that there is a level playing field worldwide for American businesses and innovators, free of counterfeiting and piracy. . . This legislation helps protect the rights of America's consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs by strengthening both our civil and criminal laws against counterfeiting and piracy.
As you might guess, actual consumer advocacy groups don't quite see things that way. "The bill only adds more imbalance to a copyright law that favors large media companies," says Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. "At a time when the entire digital world is going to less restrictive distribution models, and when the courts are aghast at the outlandish damages being inflicted on consumers in copyright cases, this bill goes entirely in the wrong direction," she says.