In his Law of the Game on Joystiq column, legal eagle Mark Methenitis reports on yet another piece of legislation designed to protect IP rights holders at the expense of consumers.
This time around it's the Intellectual Property Act aka the "PRO-IP Act". According to Methenitis, the proposed law, which has been passed by Congress and awaits President Bush's signature:
- increases the penalties for infringement by expanding what is considered a 'work'
- broadens the ability of the government to permanently seize goods
- creates an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, a new cabinet position whose sole job is to increase intellectual property enforcement.
Terming the bill "a load of bad news for consumers," Methenitis writes:
The impact to the consumer is obvious... more or less anything that has come into contact with that pirated item can be seized by the government. The statute is worded in such a broad manner that it would be theoretically possible to seize all of the computers in a home or office if one pirated MP3 or piece of software was present.
...based on this new definition of 'works,' a game with a licensed soundtrack may be multiple works... For example, let's say someone is pirating Madden 2002. It might not be worth EA's time or trouble to go after those pirates, since their real concern at this point is Madden 2009, but the piracy of that game could now also potentially be considered the piracy of that music.
Methenitis notes that it is unclear whether Bush will sign the bill or leave it for his successor.
UPDATE: Gizmodo reports that President Bush signed the bill into law today.