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Updating Intellectual Property Enforcement Laws

The Administration recently issued 20 legislative recommendations to Congress that are designed to improve intellectual property enforcement.  Because of the high profit margin and shorter prison sentences for intellectual property crimes compared to other offenses, piracy and counterfeiting are a strong lure to organized criminal enterprises that can use infringement as a revenue source to fund other unlawful activities.  The Administration has recommended increased penalties for intellectual property crimes committed by organized criminal enterprises and wiretap authority for copyright and trademark offenses.

At a recent event hosted by the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club, a panel discussed the issues that led to the recommendations, especially those that deal with the topic of wiretapping suspects in criminal copyright cases.  While panelists’ opinions differed on the point that wiretapping might be beneficial for law enforcement purposes, they did agree that it posed a significant potential threat to privacy invasion. 

They also discussed the Administration’s recommendation that Congress clarify the meaning of the term “streaming” on the Internet.  The copyright statute clearly delineates felony penalties for infringing reproduction and distribution of resources, but it is unclear whether streaming is a violation of these exclusive rights (i.e., is reproduction done in a buffer?; is no copy left on a user’s computer?).  They did agree, however, that streaming is now a viable business model for infringers and that is replacing the P2P model.

A video of the panel presentation will be available in the next few days at http://broadbandbreakfast.com/