Earlier this week the House Judiciary Committee introduced a new bill to strengthen the federal government's ability to enforce intellectual property law. Created in response to the increased counterfeiting and piracy around the world, the Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (Pro IP ACT) is one of the most significant pieces of copyright legislation in the past ten years.
The act is 69 pages long, so of course there are many components, but here is what I expect to be the most significant parts. The Act will: 1) strengthen criminal and civil laws for copyright and trademark infringement; 2) appoint officers to work with foreign countries to help combat piracy and counterfeiting abroad; 3) and establish as part of the executive branch the Office of the United States Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative, whose goal is to enhance law enforcement coordination both nationally and internationally.
Overall, I think that this is a necessary step to combat what has become a frustrating situation for businesses and artists alike. However, I do think the bill might fail to properly address the innocent infringer (someone who mistakenly thinks that the copying is fair use) and doesn't properly recognize the distinction between illegal copying for personal, as compared to commercial use. As you can imagine, fans of music sharing are freaking out right now.