Bipartisan bill would ramp up anti-piracy enforcement online

The Hill
A bipartisan bill unveiled Monday would make it easier for the Justice Department to shut down websites that traffic in pirated music, movies and counterfeit goods.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee including chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which would create an expedited process for DOJ to shut down websites providing pirated materials.

“Each year, online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American businesses billions of dollars, and result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs,” Leahy said in a statement. “Protecting intellectual property is not uniquely a Democratic or Republican priority – it is a bipartisan priority.”

The other sponsors are Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The bill will be added to the agenda for the Committee’s Thursday business meeting.

“This much needed bill will help law enforcement keep pace in shutting down websites that illegally sell copyrighted goods,” Kohl said. “By cracking down on online piracy of television shows and movies, we hope this bill will encourage copyright owners to develop innovative and competitive new choices for consumers to watch video over the internet.”

Specifically the bill would authorize Justice to file an in rem civil action against domain names used to traffic infringing material. In order to obtain a preliminary court order against the owner of the domain or website Justice would have to show the site’s “substantial and repeated role in online piracy and counterfeiting.”
The bill would require the government to publish notice of the action promptly after filing in court. There are also safeguards to allow the site or domain owner to petition the court to have the order lifted. A federal court would have final say over whether support services to a website will be cut off.

“The sale of counterfeit and pirated goods online is rampant across the world, hindering our economic growth, killing our jobs, and putting our consumers at risk. These sites are illegal, and the Senators have taken an important step towards remedying this growing problem,” said David Hirschmann, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, in a statement.

The Chamber estimates copyright piracy from movies, music, software, and video games costs the U.S. economy $58.0 billion in total output every year. The Chamber’s projected cost of that lost output is more than 370,000 domestic jobs, $16.3 billion in earnings, and $2.6 billion in tax revenue for state, local, and federal governments.

“Addressing this problem is a win-win—good for businesses that need to protect their IP online, good for the digital marketplace, and good for consumers who will benefit from both,” Hirschmann added.

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