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The PRO-IP Act: A Legislative False Start in Big Content’s Fight Against File Sharing

By Douglas Panzer of Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein, Cohen & Pokotilow, Ltd.

Douglas Panzer is an intellectual property attorney at Philadelphia law firm Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein, Cohen & Pokotilow, Ltd. ( He is a member of the Association of Patent Law Firms (, and counsels e-commerce companies, web designers and software developers in a variety of matters. He can be reached at

“When Congress speaks, the courts must listen: so our Constitution mandates.” With these words, District Court Judge Jed Rakoff refused to grant a Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) motion seeking to compute statutory copyright infringement damages on a per-song basis, rather than a per-CD basis, in the Southern District of New York litigation, now frequently referred to as “the case.”1  The year was 2000, and the issue before the court was the growing problem of illegal downloading of copyrighted music on Internet websites and peer-to-peer file sharing services.

Nearly eight years later, the widespread problem of online copyright infringement continues. Now, the RIAA and other powerful entertainment industry representatives have asked Congress to speak. But who will speak so that consumers listen? And who will sp...

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