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SOPA Critics Cry Foul Over IP Attache bill SOPA Critics Cry Foul Over IP Attache bill

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SOPA Critics Cry Foul Over IP Attache bill

July 11, 2012

A seemingly innocuous intellectual property bill has some critics of the controversial anti-piracy legislation known as the Stop Online Piracy Act crying foul.

The issue relates to draft legislation that the House Judiciary Committee put on its agenda for a markup Tuesday -- but did not get to -- that aims to improve the intellectual property attaché program. The program was created in 2006 to promote intellectual property protection and enforcement abroad.The draft bill would reorganization the program's structure and put it directly under the control of the Patent and Trademark Office.

Public Knowledge, one of many public interest and tech groups that opposed SOPA, wrote House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, on Tuesday to voice concerns with the draft bill, a version of which was included in SOPA.

SOPA and a similar Senate bill, which were focused on curbing piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites, were derailed in January after facing massive protests from tech groups, Internet activists and others who claimed the legislation would hamper innovation and free speech on the Internet.

"Five months ago Public Knowledge joined with more than 70 groups representing a variety of participants in the Internet ecosystem in calling for a more open, transparent and deliberative process on bills dealing with intellectual property policy. The current approach to the Intellectual Property Attache Act fails to meet that standard," Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn wrote. "Moreover, the legislation appears to approach intellectual property from an enforcement only approach while ignoring the need to promote limitations and excepts in copyright."

House Judiciary, which has generally steered clear of moving most tech-related legislation since the SOPA debacle, defended the process used in considering the draft IP attaché measure.

The panel has sought feedback on the draft since releasing it and plans to release a revised draft that includes changes based on that input before marking up the bill, according to a committee aide.

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