The stick is back, and so is using the federal government as hired muscle.
Media lobbyists are trying to get Congress to pass the PRO IP Act of 2007 (Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property), which creates the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative, or “WHIPER.”
This new agency will police U.S. intellectual property laws around the world. Not content with deploying military troops to other countries, apparently the feds now want to send in lawyers.
According to Declan McCullagh over at CNET:
WHIPER’s head is charged with being the president’s principal advisor and spokesman for intellectual property matters, as well as identifying countries that don’t adequately protect IP rights. It gets to create its own official seal as well, and the WHIPER head appears to be paid as well as the attorney general and secretary of defense ($186,600 in 2007).
If an executive officer’s pay grade is a reflection of relative importance in the federal government, these new priorities are apparently just as vital to the nation as those handled by the Department of Defense.
In addition to expanding bureaucracy to act as muscle for a single industry, the new act seeks to give the authorities the ability to seize computers allegedly used for infringement. This is known as civil asset forfeiture, which can happen without the owner of the property being found guilty of anything. They also wish to raise the civil penalty for infringement.
The bi-partisan pandering of this government to a specific special interest is unconscionable. If this lunacy passes Congress, it may only be a matter of time before we send troops to invade another country in hopes of finding weapons of mass infringement.