Computer Crime Research Center


Task Force Backs Stronger Enforcement Of IP Laws

Date: October 14, 2004
By: Tony Kontzer

A Justice Department task force is calling for strengthening the department's ability to enforce intellectual property laws. In revealing the task force's recommendations, Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement Tuesday that enforcement of intellectual property law is among the Justice Department's top priorities thanks to rising theft and counterfeiting in intellectual property-driven industries like software, movies, and music. "The department is prepared to build the strongest, most aggressive legal assault on intellectual property crime in our nation's history," Ashcroft said.

In addition to recommending more vehement enforcement, the task force, which was formed in March and headed by David Israelite, deputy chief of staff to Ashcroft, proposed a number of steps, including:

' Ramping up prosecution of intellectual property crimes, as well as beefing up the Justice Department's ability to file such cases;

' Giving federal authorities more legal tools for charging intellectual property criminals overseas;

' Administering more youth education programs to promote respect for intellectual property; and

' Working more closely with businesses and individuals who've been victims of intellectual property theft.

The Motion Picture Association of America, which contends it's being adversely affected by the growing availability of pirated films over file-sharing networks, endorsed the proposals. The MPAA says intellectual property piracy costs affected industries $250 billion a year. The MPAA "applauds the aggressive recommendations in this report to bolster law enforcement efforts against the theft of intellectual property," said CEO Dan Glickman in a statement.

Whatever initiatives result from the task force recommendations will join an increasingly crowded Justice Department lineup of intellectual property crime-fighting programs. Operation Fastlink, which is led by the department's criminal division and the FBI, has been working on overseas enforcement of U.S. intellectual property laws since it was launched in April. Operation Digital Gridlock has resulted in the seizure of more than 40 terabytes of intellectual property being exchanged illegally over peer-to-peer networks since the effort began in August. And the department has expanded its Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property units, as well as its Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of its criminal division.
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