Posted on May 26, 2004
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced today that he will co-sponsor the "Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004 (PIRATE)," amending the Copyright Act to give the attorney general authority to bring civil actions against persons engaging in infringing conduct that would otherwise constitute the basis for a criminal prosecution. "Software piracy alone costs the U.S. economy about 118,000 jobs and $5.7 billion in wage losses in the year 2000," said Alexander. "This legislation will give the attorney general greater effectiveness and flexibility in deterring copyright piracy. "Intellectual property is particularly important to Tennessee, a center of the music industry. Nashville has one of the nation's largest concentrations of songwriters, performers and music publishers. Protecting their intellectual property rights means protecting thousands of jobs and maintaining an industry that brings joy to millions of fans in the U.S. and around the world." The attorney general is currently not authorized to assist copyright owners in combating online piracy, except through criminal prosecutions. Federal prosecutors can rarely justify bringing criminal charges, and copyright owners have been left alone to defend their rights only where they can afford to do so. The PIRATE Act, S. 2237 sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) remedies the gap in enforcement authority by amending the Copyright Act to allow the attorney general to bring civil actions against persons engaging in infringing conduct that would otherwise constitute the basis for a criminal prosecution, and obtain the same actual or statutory damages allowed under current law. American intellectual property represents the largest single sector of the American economy, employing 4.3 million Americans. The International Planning and Research Corporation estimates that the government loses more than a billion dollars worth of revenue every year from intellectual property theft. Adding civil prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice to the battle against online piracy holds the promise of real help for the copyright industries and real deterrence.