Smith's IP-Protection Bill Tabbed 'Zombie' Reanimation of SOPA

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As he signaled last week in a statement for an IP
enforcement hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)
has introduced a bill that would beef up a Bush Administration IP attaché
program, but some are calling it an effort to piece out the Stop Online Piracy
Act, which also beefed up the attaché program but was scuttled by a Silicon
Valley-led online campaign.

Smith says the current administration has been too lax on intellectual property
enforcement, prompting him to introduce the bill. The Intellectual Property
Attaché Act would call for the placement of IP attaches in embassies where
their presence is most likely to reduce IP infringement.

The bill was being painted by its critics as an effort to reanimate parts of
the dead SOPA bill, with zombie references in both a posting on TechCrunch
and a USA
News & World Report
story about that and other online stories on the
bill.

If it is the beginning of SOPA the sequel, one unlikely backer is Rep. Darrell
Issa (R-Calif.), one of SOPA's strongest opponents. He is ready to support the
Smith bill, with some modification to exempt fair use, according to a statement
his office provided TechCrunch and confirmed to B&C/Multi was
his take on the bill.

"Rep. Issa is set to support the legislation, with small
modifications," the statement said. "The Intellectual Property
Attaché Act is written to help American individuals and companies that are
experiencing intellectual property infringement in certain foreign countries.
The legislation will place USPTO trained IP attaches in countries around the
world, focusing on areas where American job creators and innovators are
experiencing especially high levels of IP-theft. These attaches will work with
the foreign governments to help eliminate in-country IP theft that is
occurring. This is a net benefit to all Americans both IP holders and
consumers. Also, the training and other programs that the attaches may provide
can also help local law enforcement to deal with IP-infringement that is
occurring....Additionally, we expect that an amendment will be made to the
legislation before it is marked up that will instruct the attaches to promote
clear IP exceptions --­ like fair use -- already codified in U.S. Law."

Public Knowledge, which has made its name on championing fair use, was not
assuaged.

In
a letter to Smith and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.),
PK president
Gigi Sohn said her group opposed the legislation and pointed to the language
that had been in the SOPA bill. She also said the bill's "enforcement
only" approach was the wrong way to go. "I ask the Judiciary
Committee to withdraw the [bill] from consideration and pursue an open dialogue
with the public," she said in a statement.

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