Expect a House subcommittee markup within the month of an industry bill that will put the screws to hard-goods pirates and counterfeiters who use state-of-the-art holograms and authentication componen

WASHINGTON--Expect a House subcommittee markup within the month of an industry bill that will put the screws to hard-goods pirates and counterfeiters who use state-of-the-art holograms and authentication components to make the bogus product look legitimate.

Genuine identification marks, called Certificates of Authenticity (COAs), are in high demand among counterfeiters because they significantly increase the marketability and selling price of counterfeit software.

Federal law does not expressly prohibit such activity, so genuine COAs and other physical authentication components are widely sold to crooks with impunity, frustrating efforts to combat an increasingly important link in the counterfeit supply chain.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Amendment, H.R. 3632, closes this loophole. The legislation was introduced last month by Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

Brad Buckles, the new exec. VP of anti-piracy for the Recording Industry Assn. of America, testified at a Feb.12 hearing that the industry supports the legislation, but that more needs to be done to snag pirate swag on the Internet.

"We strongly urge the subcommittee, however, to turn to the issue of digital authentication components [used by pirates] in the near future," Buckles said.

Smith said at the hearing that he would give high priority to action on the bill.

Indecency legislation to increase FCC fines tenfold for indecent broadcasts is also on the front burner in the House. The bill, H.R. 3717, introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. last month, would spike fines to $250,000 per incident. It has already been cleared at subcommittee level. Upton plans another hearing on the issue Feb. 26 with a panel of network execs and local affiliates.

Incoming Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex., says he will take up the measure quickly. Sources say the bill would then go to the House floor for a vote as soon as late March. There is a companion bill in the Senate, S. 2056, introduced by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

In reaction to such legislation, the National Assn. of Broadcasters has announced it plans to hold an all-industry summit to address what it calls "responsible programming" on radio and TV. It plans to hold the summit this spring, and will bring together local broadcasters, network representatives and other stakeholders.

"The time has come for frank dialogue," says NAB president Edward O. Fritts.