By Mitch Gurney
November 22, 2010
For those that do not know about this yet here is information regarding potential legislation that appears to be receiving very little MSM publicity but has wide bipartisan support in Congress:
Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act – S. 3804 (PDF document)
Open Congress summary of the bill:
This bill would give the Department of Justice new power to shut down entire internet domains if they deem copyright infringement to be “central to the activity of the Internet site or sites accessed through a specific domain name.” It would also require the DoJ to maintain a public list of sites they have determined are “dedicated to infringing activities,” but for which they have not taken action against yet. Net neutrality and free speech advocates fear that the ambiguous wording of the bill could lead it to being used against sites like Rapidshare and YouTube that allow users to control content, and blogs that use excerpts from media articles under fair use.
Open Congress tracks and reports the activity of pending legislation and informs the public who introduces the respective bills, which elected lawmaker’s co-sponsors them and the corporate money trail behind the bills. There are tabs listed just below the title of the legislation once on the page, click on the OpenCongress link then view tabs; Overview, Actions, & Votes, and Money Trail etc. I encourage you to review this information for this legislation or for any legislation you have an interest in following.
In my opinion should this legislation become law as currently written is ripe for potential abuse by government officials. One powerful interest group supporting this bill is the Chamber of Commerce, which as we all know is a major lobbying arm for corporate America.
So far one Democrat Senator from Oregon, Senator Ron Wyden, has spoken out in opposition and “has vowed to oppose this controversial bill that would allow the U.S. government to shut down websites suspected of hosting infringing materials.”
As a result of Wyden’s opposition the bill is likely dead this year. But you can rest assured it will come up for review and a vote once the new congressional members take office and could pass.
Wyden called the bill the “wrong medicine” for dealing with online copyright infringement. The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek expedited court orders requiring U.S. domain-name registrars to shut down domestic websites suspected of hosting infringing materials. The bill would also allow the DOJ, through court orders, to order U.S. ISPs to redirect customer traffic away from infringing foreign websites.
“Deploying this statute to combat online copyright infringement seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile,” Wyden said during a hearing on digital trade issues. “If you don’t think this thing through carefully, the collateral damage would be American innovation, American jobs, and a secure Internet.”
Wyden’s opposition means the bill is likely dead this year. Individual senators can place holds on legislation, and there are only a few working days left in the congressional session this year. Sponsors of the legislation, including fellow Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, would have to reintroduce the bill if it doesn’t pass this year.
Supporters of the bill say it’s needed to combat rampant copyright and trademark infringement online. The bill would protect legitimate sites by targeting only sites that have no other purpose than the distribution of infringing materials, supporters said..
“The Internet serves as the glue of international commerce in today’s global economy,” Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and bill sponsor, said in a statement. “But it’s also been turned into a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property.”
COICA has bipartisan support and will help copyright holders and police better coordinate their efforts to fight online piracy, Hatch added.
For additional information see:
Screen Actors Guild – in support of the bill