WASHINGTON - By a 410-10 vote on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the controversial Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act.
The Pro-IP Act, sponsored by Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), is backed by the entertainment industry and other major copyright holders.
But the Department of Justice is among the act's opponents, saying the act could undermine its traditional authority in prosecuting copyright cases.
If made into law, the Pro-IP Act would rewrite U.S. law to allow federal officials to seize property - including computers or other equipment used to commit intellectual-property crimes or obtained using proceeds from such crimes - from convicted copyright infringers who made unauthorized copies of music, movies or live performances.
The bill also would create the position of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative, who would be appointed by the president. This person would act as a chief adviser on the enforcement of intellectual-property laws.
The bill was passed after a controversial section on copyright infringement was removed. The original proposal would have made the fines and penalties for the crime of sharing music much more severe.