A U.S. Senate panel on Sept. 11 overwhelmingly approved a bill backed by the recording industry that would give federal prosecutors the power to file civil lawsuits against peer-to-peer users who violate copyright laws, CNET reports. By a 14-4 margin, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, which would create stricter IP laws, as well as increase the ability of the White House and Justice Department to enforce those laws. All four dissenters were Republicans: John Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. "We all know that intellectual property makes up some of the most valuable, and most vulnerable, property we have," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who introduced the bill with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) in July. "We need to do more to protect it from theft and abuse if we hope to continue being a world leader in innovation." Leahy added an amendment that he said would address some privacy concerns. The Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America have supported the bill. Groups such as the American Library Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are opposed to portions, including the Justice Department pursuing taxpayer-funded lawsuits on behalf of private parties…

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