In addition to the many benefits that the Internet and new online technologies have brought society, unfortunately they have also been used as platforms to support commercial-scale criminal operations centered on counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property (IP).
The sale of counterfeit products over the Internet—such as fake pharmaceuticals, medical devices, auto and electrical parts, and many others—not only poses a severe risk to consumer health and safety but also undermines sectors of our economy that have historically provided secure, high-paying jobs.
The rampant theft of movies, music, books, television programming, games, software and other digital content threatens the ability of U.S. companies to invest in new projects and productions. Online theft also severely impacts the ability of American artists, craftspeople, and other content creators to earn a living, support their families, and invest in their own creative development. That is why businesses and labor unions are working together to raise awareness about this problem and its harmful impact on our economy.
While fully addressing IP theft online may present a variety of complicated issues, a reasonable and non-controversial starting point for addressing this problem is to ferret out and shut down websites whose business models are centered on the sale or distribution of counterfeit and pirated materials.
Increasingly, consumers are lured to sophisticated and well-designed websites, complete with corporate advertising, credit card acceptance, and similar indicia of legitimacy; but these sites are devoted almost exclusively to offering or linking to unauthorized downloads or streaming of copyrighted material— including the latest movie and music hits—or to trafficking in counterfeit products, from pharmaceuticals to luxury goods. These rogue sites attract millions of visitors and have accumulated billions of dollars in ill-gotten revenues.
Legitimate businesses expend significant resources to investigate and use all available legal and technological tools to thwart these rogue sites. However many of them have chosen to locate themselves in foreign jurisdictions that would effectively preclude direct action.