'Rogue websites' bill returns to US Senate

May 13, 2011
US senators re-introduced a bill that would give the US authorities more tools to crack down on websites selling pirated movies, television shows and music and counterfeit goods. "This legislation will protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments," said Senator Patrick Leahy, pictured on May 5.

US senators re-introduced a bill Thursday that would give the US authorities more tools to crack down on websites selling pirated movies, television shows and music and counterfeit goods.

"This legislation will protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments," said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont.

"The Protect IP Act targets the most egregious actors, and is an important first step to putting a stop to online and sale of counterfeit goods," Leahy said in a statement.

A similar , the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 19-0 vote in November but never made it to the Senate floor.

The new version of the bill designed to combat so-called "rogue websites" has been renamed the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or Protect IP Act.

It was introduced by Leahy and Republicans Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

"We are sending a strong message to those selling or distributing counterfeit goods online that the United States will strongly protect its ," Hatch said. "Fake pharmaceuticals threaten people's lives. Stolen movies, music, and other products put many out of work."

Grassley said the legislation "will add another tool to the toolbox for going after these criminals and protecting the American public."

The previous bill had come under fire from digital rights and free speech groups for paving the way for the authorities to shut down websites, including non-US websites, without due process.

The Obama administration has come in for some criticism for shutting down dozens of websites in recent months as part of a crackdown known as "Operation in Our Sites."

US authorities in November shut down 82 websites selling mostly Chinese-made , including golf clubs, Walt Disney movies, handbags and other items.

One opponent of the bill, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. said Thursday it was "no less dismayed by this most recent incarnation than we were with last year's draft."

The EFF said the bill attempts to "inject a little due process into the mix," but it "falls far short of the mark given the potential implications of these actions for online speech."

The Center for Democracy & Technology said it still has "serious reservations" about the bill although there were some improvements.

"In particular, the new bill rightly narrows the definition of infringement websites to target true bad actors," it said.

The bill was strongly condemned by Ed Black, president and chief executive of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

"The United States government should not be in the business of choosing what Internet content is acceptable and censoring that which it deems is not," Black said. "Meddling with Internet architecture to disappear sites and even hyperlinks to those sites is an Orwellian approach to law enforcement.

"Technologically speaking shutting down parts of the Internet, even for a seemingly good reason, is still censorship -- no matter what new name you give it," Black said.

Explore further: Twitter blocks two accounts on its Turkish network

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US lawmakers to push for online piracy bill

Apr 05, 2011

Democratic and Republican members of the US Congress pledged Monday to pass legislation that would give US authorities more tools to crack down on websites engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music and the ...

US Senate committee approves online piracy bill

Nov 18, 2010

The US Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Thursday that would give US law enforcement more tools to crack down on websites abroad engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

US privacy groups welcome 'Do Not Track' bill

May 09, 2011

Privacy and consumer groups welcomed a "Do Not Track" bill introduced in the US Senate on Monday that would let Internet users block companies from gathering information about their online activities. ...

US accuses 10 sports websites of piracy links

Feb 03, 2011

US agents have sidelined 10 websites they said were linking viewers to pirated telecasts of live sporting events including professional basketball, hockey, wrestling, and other sports.

Recommended for you

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

Apr 18, 2014

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

TCS, Mitsubishi to create new Japan IT services firm

India's biggest outsourcing firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Japan's Mitsubishi Corp said Monday they are teaming up to create a Japanese software services provider with annual revenues of $600 million.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...