Lamar Smith
© unknownLamar Smith
SOPA Foe Rep. Darrell Issa Says He Supports Bill With Tweaking To Protect Fair Use; PK, Not Assuaged, Opposes It

As he signaled last week in a statement for an IP enforcement hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would beef up a Bush Administration IP attaché program, but some are calling it an effort to piece out the Stop Online Piracy Act, which also beefed up the attaché program but was scuttled by a Silicon Valley-led online campaign.

Smith says the current administration has been too lax on intellectual property enforcement, prompting him to introduce the bill. The Intellectual Property Attaché Act would call for the placement of IP attaches in embassies where their presence is most likely to reduce IP infringement.

The bill was being painted by its critics as an effort to reanimate parts of the dead SOPA bill, with zombie references in both a posting on TechCrunch and a USA News & World Report story about that and other online stories on the bill.

If it is the beginning of SOPA the sequel, one unlikely backer is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), one of SOPA's strongest opponents. He is ready to support the Smith bill, with some modification to exempt fair use, according to a statement his office provided TechCrunch and confirmed to B&C/Multi was his take on the bill.

"Rep. Issa is set to support the legislation, with small modifications," the statement said. "The Intellectual Property Attaché Act is written to help American individuals and companies that are experiencing intellectual property infringement in certain foreign countries. The legislation will place USPTO trained IP attaches in countries around the world, focusing on areas where American job creators and innovators are experiencing especially high levels of IP-theft. These attaches will work with the foreign governments to help eliminate in-country IP theft that is occurring. This is a net benefit to all Americans both IP holders and consumers. Also, the training and other programs that the attaches may provide can also help local law enforcement to deal with IP-infringement that is occurring....Additionally, we expect that an amendment will be made to the legislation before it is marked up that will instruct the attaches to promote clear IP exceptions --­ like fair use -- already codified in U.S. Law."

Public Knowledge, which has made its name on championing fair use, was not assuaged.

In a letter to Smith and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), PK president Gigi Sohn said her group opposed the legislation and pointed to the language that had been in the SOPA bill. She also said the bill's "enforcement only" approach was the wrong way to go. "I ask the Judiciary Committee to withdraw the [bill] from consideration and pursue an open dialogue with the public," she said in a statement.