Well folks, he did it. Bush signed the PRO-IP bill into law. Now, I can only hope it goes unenforced. Torrent Freak has a good post on just how crazy this new law is. One thing people have been celebrating (people that aren't lobbyists or the RIAA) is the removal by the Senate of a section that would have given the DOJ the ability to bring civil infringement claims. It was the DOJ itself that had to step in before Congress could be talked out of that idea.
A sigh of relief swept the country when the provision was struck. There was a general feeling of "at least our tax dollars won't be fighting Hollywood's battles for them." But it's a false sense of relief. Our tax dollars are not as safe as we hoped or believed. What am I talking about? Title IV of the new law: Department of Justice Programs.
There's plenty in this title that could serve as fodder for burning our tax dollars (improved forensic research for IP crimes!), but I'm going to focus on one provision: Sec. 401 Local Law Enforcement Grants.
The Federal Government has had a program in place for many years that provides grants to State and local governments to aid them in the prosecution of computer crimes. (42 U.S.C. 3713.) To obtain these funds, State and local governments need to have enacted laws that prohibit and penalize certain types of computer crimes, like on-line fraud or hacking. The grant funds may be used for enforcing laws against and prosecuting computer crimes, and for the development of educational and awareness programs.
Copyright infringement was just added to the list of computer crimes. In the law's language:
The Office of Justice Programs of the Department of Justice may make grants to eligible State or local law enforcement entities, including law enforcement agencies of municipal governments and public educational institutions, for training, prevention, enforcement, and prosecution of intellectual property theft and infringement crimes. (S.3325 Sec. 401(b).)
So there it is. Our tax dollars are still hard at work to "protect" the mass media companies from theft. A grant program that used to protect the security of our identities and the sanctity of our on-line information, now panders to the iniquitous MPAA/RIAA (or as one blogger called them, the MAFIAA).