A bipartisan group of senators introduced new legislation on Capitol Hill to address intellectual property rights enforcement.

Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) today (July 24) unveiled the "Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008."

The legislation's key components include authorization for the Attorney General to enforce civil copyright laws; coordination and strategic planning of federal efforts against counterfeiting and piracy; and increased resources for key programs within the Department of Justice to combat intellectual property theft.

The bill is similar to the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP) Act, which was overwhelmingly passed in the House, by a vote of 410 to 11, in May.

"Better coordination and stronger enforcement of intellectual property laws at home and abroad will have a positive impact not only on the music industry, but on the overall U.S. economy, encouraging growth, job creation and trade," says David Israelite, president/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Assn. and former Justice Department chairman of the Intellectual Property Task Force.

"Today's action, coupled with recent overwhelming passage of the PRO IP Act by the House, signifies welcome momentum towards protecting the rights of American innovators and creators," he continued.

"With intellectual property contributing over $5 trillion to our national economy, it is one of our most valuable assets and we must protect it," Senator Specter said in a statement.

Senator Bayh estimated American businesses lose $250 billion every year, and that the U.S. has lost more than 750,000 jobs because of intellectual property theft.

The new legislation is expected to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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