Justice Department Grants $2.4M to Local Police for IP Theft Crackdowns

Attorney General Eric Holder said the need to protect intellectual property "has never been more urgent"

The Department of Justice has granted more than $2.4 million to 13 local law enforcement agencies around the country Wednesday to crack down on online piracy.

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The funding was secured through the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, signed in 2008, to curb copyright infringement.

Attorney General Eric Holder awarded the grants on Wednesday at a ceremony at Towson University in Maryland.

"Without question, these new investments are coming at a critical time," Holder said in a prepared statement. "As our country continues to recover from once-in-a-generation economic challenges, the need to defend IP rights — and to protect Americans from IP theft — has never been more urgent."

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The 13 agencies chosen to receive funds are located in areas with large media industries, including four bodies in California — the Riverside County district attorney's office, Sacramento County, the city of Los Angeles and the state's justice department.

Baltimore, where the award was announced, received $124,000.

The Motion Picture Association praised Congress for "continuing its commitment to protecting intellectual property" and "recognizing this is serious problem.

"These generous grants will support the ongoing efforts of local law enforcement working in the field to combat the theft of creative content," Michael O'Leary, the MPAA's senior executive vice president for global policy and external affairs, said in a statement. "While we continue to work toward an internet that works for everyone, we must also continue to protect the creative industries that contribute to national job growth and a stronger U.S. economy."

But the law has faced predicable opponents since it was enacted.

In 2008, William Patry, a senior copyright lawyer at Google, called the legislation the most "outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the U.S."