Washington D.C.' - The U.S. House of Representatives passed the PRO-Freedom Act of 2008 by a vote of 408-11 yesterday.
The PRO-Freedom Act has several provisions which expand fair use and increase freedoms of consumers over the intellectual property they legally own. The bill further expands on the rights granted to citizens in 1998's Digital Millennium Freedom Act.
“Ensuring the freedom of citizens is the government's top priority, and the PRO-Freedom act gives lawmakers the tools they need make that happen,” said the act's cosponsor Rep. Howard “The Artist's Best Friend” Berman from California.
The act would create a cabinet-level position of freedom czar to the Black House, whose main tasks would be to police corporations abusing intellectual property laws, and ensure citizens feel comfortable sharing ideas.
“Sure, corporations play a part in the creative process, but it's minimal and should be treated that way in the law. Keeping the power with the artists and the consumers of creative products continues to be my focus as a Representative,” said Rep. Berman.
The act would strengthen the United States's leadership position around the globe in intellectual property freedoms, and many see it as a sign that the U.S. is serious about dealing with countries like China and India with strong intellectual property laws that favor corporations over artists and citizens.
“Did you know that in China they arrest people wearing unlicensed Darth Vader T-shirts? Can you imagine that happening here in the States or how George Lucas would feel about that?,” said Berman.
The act has broad support among the well-educated citizenry of the United States. “I value fair use and understand the dangers that strict intellectual property protections would mean to this great nation,” said Celia Norwich of Des Moines, Iowa. Her comments echo most of the folks on the street we talked to this past week.
President Bush said that passing the law is a top priority of his administration. “Expanding freedoms has been a priority of this administration since the day I took office. The PRO-Freedom act is a key tool in the continuing War on Oppression.”
Obviously, the MPAA, which has long supported increased consumer freedoms, support the bill. MPAA President and former Secretary of Peace Dan Glickman said, “Hollywood stands strongly behind the PRO-Freedom act. The remixes, the fan fiction, the posting of clips from our films only increase awareness and push our artists to greater heights.”
The bill is expected to sail quickly through the highly efficient Senate and be signed by the President by the end of May.