At this very moment, a bill supported by the RIAA that would give the feds the power to file civil suits against “any person” (i.e. any file-swapper from here to Honolulu) who runs afoul of copyright law and, in some cases, would double the damages they face, is moving through Congress. The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act—which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday by a 14-4 margin—would also send more troops into the file-sharing fray by creating offices for someone known as the “IP Enforcement Coordinator” (jeez) as well as five additional “International IP Enforcement Coordinators,” who, as CNET News has it, would “act as liaisons to foreign countries with respect to U.S. IP law enforcement.”
“This legislation is a welcome verse in a great song,” quipped RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol.
Predictably, the bill’s opponents include folks like the American Library Association, Public Knowledge, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation—all of whom take particular umbrage with the idea that tax-payers, not the copyright holders themselves, would be charged with financing these massive P2P lawsuits.
If the IP Enforcement Coordinator is Congress’ way of propping up the music industry while everyone steals records instead of paying an arm and a leg for them, consider this another, less-litigious response to the crisis. Beginning in October, SongVest will start auctioning off portions of the publishing rights to songs by the likes of Garth Brooks, Aerosmith, and Cher. That’s right, now Faith Hill’s “Someone Else’s Dream” can be yours too! At the moment though, you’ll only have 18 songs to choose from, and not much in terms of quality (besides “(Theme from) The Monkees” and Garth’s own theme song, “Friends in Low Places,” of course.) You’ll also have no say in how the music is used or where. All SongVest is selling is a certificate and the chance at a few royalty checks. Somehow we doubt enough folks will be willing to shell out 250K for Randy Travis’ “Look Heart No Hands,” to slow the music industry’s increasingly rapid fall into the abyss…. but hey, what do we know?