Intellectual Property Prosecutions Double, Says Justice

The Justice Department Tuesday is issuing a status report on protection of intellectual property in the digital age, saying it has almost doubled the number of defendants prosecuted for intellectual property crimes.

Even Court TV has been part of the solution, according to the department.

In its 104-page progress report, the Task force on Intellectual Property says it has implemented recommendations made in October 2004, when it issued its initial report about what steps needed to be taken.

Among the progress it is reporting:

•Boosting the number of prosecutors of intellectual property crimes by a dozen.

•Creating an intellectual property educational program for young people (including distributing information on college campuses).

•Increasing the number of defendants prosecuted for intellectual property offenses 98% (from 177 in fiscal year 2004 to 350 in 2005).

•Training over 2,000 prosecutors in other countries and boosting efforts in Asia and Eastern Europe.

•Partnering with the Patent Office to put $900,000 over three years into piracy prevention efforts.

•Teaming with Court TV, which has covered a number of events on intellectual property rights.Prosecuting the theft of DISH's satellite signal by a man who made over $300,000 selling pirated and re-programmed devices.

Content providers, arguably led by NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright, have been pushing for stronger copyright protections and stepped-up pursuit of IP pirates, arguing they threaten hundreds of billions of dollars across a host of sectors, from counterfeit drugs to stolen TV shows, and could impede the transition to digital content distribution.

In October 2005,  Attorney General Alberto Gonzales added new members to the task force and told it to implement the 2004 recommendations ASAP.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.