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Dubya's been keeping his head pretty low, probably relieved to let the news cycle chew on someone else's ass for a bit. But even though it looks like he plans to stay on cruise control until January, he's still finding new ways to fuck up the federal government. Today he signed into law the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, clearing the final hurdle in his administration's quest to create a cabinet-level piracy czar. That unwieldy title collapses to the acronym "PRO-IP Act," in case you were wondering whether this law was going to, oh, help defend fair use, or maybe take properties that should've become public domain decades ago out of the hands of greedy corporations.
Intellectual property is a legitimate, useful concept, and rights holders ought to have rights, but the RIAA and MPAA have shown by word and deed that they don't give a fuck about fair use or the public domain. And they're the ones who are helping to write these laws, not the EFF or Cory Doctorow or anyone who backs the public's rights and the creative community's rights. In fact the entertainment industry managed to get a provision into an earlier version of the PRO-IP Act that would've permitted the Justice Department, not record companies or movie studios, to pursue civil litigation against infringers. It was such a gross maneuver that even the Bush Administration got icked out by it and demanded, successfully, to have it cut.
But even without that provision, what this adds up to is a new apparatus attached to the already sprawling federal bureaucracy, one that uses taxpayer money to enforce the interests of big corporations looking to punish civilian downloaders. Funny how that worked out.
The act passed unanimously in the Senate and with broad bipartisan support in the House. Please, why doesn't somebody tell me again about how a Democratic majority in Congress will keep terrible pro-corporate bullshit from becoming the law of the land. I could use a laugh.