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Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004

Location: Washington, DC

PIRACY DETERRENCE AND EDUCATION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2004)


Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of H.R. 4077, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act of 2004, as amended today by the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting to pass this important and worthy piece of legislation.

Prior to reporting H.R. 4077 by voice vote earlier this month, the Committee on the Judiciary gave this bill great deliberation. This bill and its precursors, H.R. 2517 and H.R. 2752, were the subject of several subcommittee hearings and a subcommittee markup. Through the extensive process given to this bill, the Committee on the Judiciary crafted a measure that makes important contributions and advances in the fight against widespread electronic theft of copyrighted works.

Intellectual property theft has become a rampant and serious threat to the livelihoods of all copyright creators. Digital technologies like the CD burner, the Internet, and the MP3 audio-compression standard, while enhancing the consumer experience, have greatly facilitated copyright theft and led to an explosion in its prevalence. Studies indicate that at any given time more than 850 million copyright-infringing files are being illegally offered for distribution through just one peer-to-peer, file-swapping network. Innumerable Web sites, file transfer protocol servers, Internet affinity groups, and Internet relay chat channels also constitute havens for copyright theft.

Copyright theft injures copyright creators of all types, whether they are songwriters, photojournalists, graphic designers, software engineers, or musicians. On the human level, illegal downloads of songs supplant legal downloads and thus deny songwriters the 8 cents they are due for each legal download. At the macro level, the worldwide software industry alone is estimated to have suffered $29 billion in packaged software loss due to piracy during 2003.

While not a panacea, the changes made by H.R. 4077 will play an important role in addressing the piracy problem. It has become clear that law enforcement authorities need additional resources, statutory authority, and incentives to become productive participants in the antipiracy battle. H.R. 4077 is designed to address these needs.

Specifically, sections 103 and 105 of the bill engage Federal law enforcement agencies in the effort to deter and educate the public about copyright crimes. Section 103 establishes a voluntary program through which the FBI, with cooperation from Internet service providers, can inform Internet users about suspected infringement. Section 105 directs the Department of Justice, in conjunction with the U.S. Copyright Office, to establish an Internet use education program. Section 106 enables criminal prosecution of copyright infringement involving unregistered works.

This will assist copyright owners, such as photographers, who generally cannot register their copyrighted works, and, as a result, effectively cannot afford to bring civil actions against infringers. By raising the possibility of criminal prosecution, section 106 would create a credible deterrent against the theft of unregistered works.

Section 108 deals with the growing phenomenon of copyright thieves who use portable digital video recorders to record movies off theater screens during public exhibitions. I was recently in Pakistan, and on the hotel TVs they showed "Catwoman," still out in theaters; and as you watched, you could hear people coughing in the background, or indeed standing up to get popcorn. Plainly, not a legitimately copyrighted exhibition.

Organized piracy rings widely distribute copies of these surreptitious recordings, both online and on the street. Section 108 clarifies that it is a felony to surreptitiously record a move in a theater.

Section 110 makes the potential criminal prosecution a more credible deterrent to egregious infringements by otherwise judgment-proof infringers. Section 110 does this by ensuring that criminal copyright prosecutions can be brought against copyright infringers who knowingly distribute massive amounts of copyrighted works or enormously valuable copyrighted works with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement.

Section 112 of H.R. 4077 did generate some concern during the Committee on the Judiciary consideration because it resolves a legal question at the heart of a pending Federal litigation. While many members of the Committee on the Judiciary believe section 112 inappropriately intervenes in this Federal legislation, support for the balance of H.R. 4077 convinced these members to support the bill as a whole.

Thus, H.R. 4077 is, on balance, a well-crafted bill that will provide valuable and targeted assistance in the battle against copyright piracy.

It is worth noting that while not universally embraced, H.R. 4077 has garnered widespread consensus support. Groups as diverse as the Professional Photographers Association, the Video Software Dealers Association, and needlepoint designers have written in support.

The widespread support is a credit to its sponsors, who worked assiduously during committee consideration to address many of the concerns raised. In fact, H.R. 4077 itself was introduced as a replacement for H.R. 2517 and H.R. 2752, both of which contained several more controversial provisions.

During consideration of this bill, it has been amended to include changes sought by Internet service providers, universities, theater owners, broadcast networks, consumer groups, parallel importers, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. While I would not go so far as to say that H.R. 4077 has the affirmative endorsement of all concerned, I do believe that most of the legitimate concerns have been accommodated.

In summary, this bill as amended today advances important and necessary objectives, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting it.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.


Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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