US Senate committee approves online piracy bill

November 18, 2010 by Chris Lefkow
Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, US Sen. Patrick Leahy speaks in Washington, DC in May 2010. The committee passed legislation on Thursday that would give US law enforcement more tools to crack down on websites engaged in piracy of movies, television shows and music.

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.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which has the support of the entertainment industry but has been strongly criticized by digital rights and other groups, was approved by a vote of 19-0.

"Few things are more important to the future of the American economy and job creation than protecting our intellectual property," said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who co-sponsored the bill.

"That is why the legislation is supported by both labor and industry, and Democrats and Republicans are standing together," Leahy said.

The bill gives the Justice Department an expedited process for cracking down on websites engaged in piracy or the sale of counterfeit goods including having courts issue shutdown orders against domains based outside the United States.

"Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products," Leahy said. "If they existed in the physical world, the store would be shuttered immediately and the proprietors would be arrested."

"We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online and the owners operate overseas," he said. "The Internet needs to be free -- not lawless."

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah and the co-sponsor of the bill, described the Internet "as the glue of international commerce in today's global economy.

"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," Hatch said.

In May, a congressional anti-piracy caucus condemned Canada, China, Mexico, Russia and Spain for failing to crack down on Internet piracy and said theft of intellectual property in those countries was at "alarming levels."

In addition to the music, movie and TV industries, the bill has received the backing of newspapers, authors and publishers but it has been condemned by the the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) as an "Internet censorship" bill.

"Blacklisting entire sites out of the domain name system," the group said, is a "reckless scheme that will undermine global Internet infrastructure and censor legitimate online speech."

While it received unanimous support in committee, the bill is likely to run into some opposition when it reaches the floor of the Senate or the House of Representatives, either during the current session or in January, when the new Congress convenes.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said Thursday that while online copyright infringement is a legitimate concern the bill "as it's written today is the wrong medicine."

"It seems almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb when what you really need is a precision-guided missile," he said, adding that unless the legislation is modified he will seek to prevent its passage.

Ed Black, president and chief executive of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, noted concerns that the bill "threatens Internet openness and freedom."

"Even when done with good intentions, when we create blacklists and take down domains, other governments will no doubt replicate these practices -- only for more far reaching, less noble purposes," Black said.

Explore further: US Senate bill seeks to crack down on online piracy

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not rated yet Nov 18, 2010
wow..."intellectual property"? maybe true for some cases, but not this one....
not rated yet Nov 18, 2010
So what has changed?
5 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2010
Jeez... this is as good as the Australian internet filtering bill.
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
This is not Capitalism, this is protectionism.
19-0 votes -> that's not democracy, that's a paid off Senate and consolidation of power. Time for the each state to become independant, have their own bank, and write their own rules.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2010
How typical. They get a bill passed to protect companies profits so they can 'create jobs' for us poor slobs, what about identity thieves and scammers that steal the money WE make in those jobs?
not rated yet Nov 19, 2010
"Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products", what exactly is
"dangerous" about piracy and are they assuming all pirate sites sell their pirated products? I thought the whole point was to get it for free.
not rated yet Nov 19, 2010
Okay, here's what we're going to do. HD radio is free and of sufficient quality,right? Design a device to interface with an HD reciever, record hours of data from every channel, one at a time, and then use a data base of sound clips to identify which song it is (I've seen phone apps that do this well) and extract and separate the individual tracks and label them. Bam! You just pirated all your music from a source that was willingly broadcasting it out to you for free. Just like recording the radio onto a cassette tape when you were younger.
not rated yet Nov 19, 2010
The answer to this is boycott. You don't require these products to live. Bury these fucking cocksuckers in a tomb of their own greed. Wanna bet I'm gonna buy your shitty, overpriced music because of this?? I don't need it, and I don't need you to sell it to me.
not rated yet Nov 21, 2010
Call me paranoid, but I fear this is only the beginning of a move towards significant government control and censorship of the web.
This slope is made of pure ice.
not rated yet Nov 26, 2010
Are they Senators on drugs? This will do nothing to stop piracy in other countries and may split the web in to regional networks. Also it is a violation of free speech rights. Also people aren't buying pirated copies, they are downloading them for free. Do these clowns even own a computer?
not rated yet Dec 27, 2010
I am one who also believe the Internet needs government regulation in America (very serious government action in France with new anti-piracy law called HADOPI starting to be officially applied for example). Eric F. Vermote illegally used P2P in Maryland during 2003-2004 (bootlegs & audio files for his car). This man with a IT degree works for NASA & the University of Maryland but went to jail for automobile theft in Florida... he is definitely not at all scrupulous with music too obviously and filed a defamation legal suit in France against me in July 2009 stipulating he never got involved in on-line piracy because he is a manipulative liar & because the case involved never got officially substantiated or couldn't ever be substantiated; my point is that if the Internet had been better regulated by the US government Eric F. Vermote would not have had the opportunity to lie against me and pretend what I accused him of (on-line piracy) is frivolous. On-line piracy cases almost absolutely
not rated yet Dec 27, 2010
Call me paranoid, but I fear this is only the beginning of a move towards significant government control and censorship of the web.
This slope is made of pure ice.

It's called 'Net Neutrality'.

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