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Congress Passes IP Bill with Provision Administration Opposes

The House Sunday passed the Intellectual Property Enforcement bill, legislation backed by studios and publishers that boosts the government's effort to crack down on intellectual piracy.

The bill already passed the Senate Friday after a provision was removed that would have given the Justice Department the power to pursue civil cases against copyright infringers. That and another provision still in the bill ran afoul of both the Justice and Commerce Departments.

But the bill, as passed by both Houses and heading for the president's desk, still contains a provision for creating an IP-enforcement-coordinating post in the White House's Office of the President, which Commerce and Justice said they objected to strongly as a violation of separation of powers.

In a letter last week to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Commerce and Justice said they "strongly oppose" Congress creating the IP-enforcement coordinator in the executive office of the president, adding that "the statutory creation of an EOP coordinator with the duties described in the bill constitutes a legislative intrusion into the internal structure and composition of the president's administration."

It now remains to be seen whether the White House wants to take on a veto fight on a bipartisan bill -- it passed the Senate by unanimous consent and the House by a margin of 381-41, according to Public Knowledge, which has been tracking the bill's progress. One source who wouldn't mind seeing the president try to scuttle the bill said he doubted that would happen.

"Through a truly bipartisan effort, Congress reinforced the significance of creative endeavors and sent a clear message that the protection of intellectual property and American industrial innovation is a national priority," Motion Picture Association of America chairman Dan Glickman said in a statement on the bill's passage. "In the motion-picture industry alone, more than 1.5 million people are employed, and the provisions of this bill will spur even greater production and jobs for American workers. Republicans and Democrats alike have demonstrated their leadership today and their ability to work together when American economic productivity is at stake.”