Broadcasters support rogue sites bill

The Hill
The National Association of Broadcasters threw its weight behind a bill aimed at rooting out websites that sell counterfeit goods.

The legislation from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and bipartisan members of his committee gives law enforcement greater leeway to crack down on Internet piracy while broadening the responsibility that ad networks, search engines, and Internet service providers have to throw up roadblocks for infringers.

Gordon Smith, president of NAB, wrote to the committee leaders last week to endorse the bill. He highlighted how online theft can hurt radio and television stations.

“Internet piracy negatively impacts the broadcast industry in a variety of ways. Examples include, but are not limited to, the retransmission of live or recorded broadcasts via the Internet; the commercial sale to the public of unauthorized DVD copies of broadcaster signals and programming obtained off the Internet; and unauthorized retransmission of pre-broadcast satellite signals over the Internet,” he said.

The bill is expected to head into a committee markup this week, and has strong support from content outlets, including the recording and movie industries, as well as parts of the business community traditionally concerned with intellectual property theft. The Chamber of Commerce has released an ad campaign aimed at bolstering the legislation.

Internet companies are wary of how the bill might put them on the hook for fighting IP violations, particularly because search engines would have a new responsibility to take down ads to infringing sites. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that his company would oppose the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has raised concerns about the legislation. He said the bill in part improves on last year’s draft, but has some highly problematic sections.

The bill “puts forward several new provisions that would have serious ramifications for Internet speech and commerce,” he said in a statement when it was released.

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