PRO-IP Act Passed by U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate approved the PRO-IP Act last week, which will strengthen intellectual property laws. However, the bill passed without controversial civil prosecution stipulations that would have allowed the Justice Department to prosecute civil copyright infringement cases.

The Bush administration scuttled the civil copyright enforcement provision after a complaint that it would transform the Justice Dept. into "pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources."

The entertainment industry supported the bill, which will also generate a Cabinet-level "piracy czar" to globally manage U.S. intellectual property enforcement endeavors, Digital Media Wire reported.

A similar bill passed last year that did not include civil copyright prosecutorial provisions. A new draft is scheduled to come up for vote on Saturday and is expected to pass.