US lawmakers to push for online piracy bill

April 5, 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 sale of counterfeit goods.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would introduce a new version "soon" of a bill designed to combat so-called "rogue websites."

A previous bill co-sponsored by Leahy, called 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.

Leahy, speaking to reporters on Monday, said: "Online infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods costs American creators, producers, and businesses billions of dollars and results in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

"This theft is unacceptable at any time; it is devastating in our current economic climate," he said.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, said: "The success of our economy is in part tied to the success of America's intellectual property industries.

"From movies and music to software and medicine, IP theft drains our economy and puts lives at risk," Smith said.

Leahy and Smith were joined by other lawmakers at the event along with representatives of the entertainment industry and labor organizations.

"The Internet has regrettably become a cash-cow for the criminals and organized crime cartels who profit from and counterfeit products," said Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan.

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.

Leahy said the bill would ensure a judicial review for websites accused of engaging in illegal activities and dismissed claims it threatened First Amendment protections of free speech.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) last year decried the previous version of Leahy's legislation as an "Internet censorship" bill.

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

"I'm very concerned about the First Amendment," Leahy said Monday. "I'm also concerned about theft.

"There is no First Amendment right that protects thieves."

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not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
Riiiight... makers, actors, and musicians are just dying since they don't already make enough money...

Internet "piracy" happens because it's a "free market".

If I buy a shovel, it's mine to do with as a please, including sharing it with a neighbor, or giving it away.

Why should software be any different?

If I buy knowledge or "information", that too is MINE to do with as I please, including giving it away.

Ones and Zeros are "Information".

Have you ever tried to pay the label price for a "good" compiler or 3-d modeling software? It costs completely outrageous and insane amounts.
not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
"The Internet has regrettably become a cash-cow for the criminals and organized crime cartels who profit from digital piracy and counterfeit products," said Representative John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan.

Ummm... No one profits from giving away stuff for free. So... Criminals, and organized crime cartels don't profit from what is being discussed in this article, which is obviously music and video piracy.

not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
On another note, were Media companies to offer their tv shows, movies, and music for full download to my computer for playing in the media player of my choice, with commercials (from which they'd profit, and would be able to track numbers of people watching the shows)I would encourage all those who engage in downloading from alternative sources to discontinue.

Because the media companies refuse to allow their consumers the choice of how and when they view their products piracy will continue no matter what additional laws or prohibitions are put into place.

Imagine if we were only able to read books in the library where we got them, and only during certain times of the day for certain books.
not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
The stupid thing is that no trading of knowledge, technology, goods, or services have ever been restricted in a similar manner as movies, music, and software are, and certainly not the way this bill would try to restrict them.

The only exception would be illegal drugs and prostitution, and that's because, well, they actually kill people through OD and STDs...
not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
Just when you think they can't be any more stupid...
Obviously making it MORE illegal will immediately solve the problem.

It amazes me that rapacious international media conglomerates are still struggling so hard to keep prices artificially elevated despite the rest of the world making it into the 21st century.

At the same time I know plenty of people who would never bother to pirate anything if it was universally available and at a reasonable price.

Piracy only exists in the gap between production/distribution costs and excessive profit taking. Reduce the gap and you reduce piracy. On the other hand, if someone told you that the price of apples was going from 50c each to $100 each you would immediately get people growing apples in their backyards, no matter who held the patent on the seeds.

I can understand the Senate loving something that will allow them to expand censorship, but the actions of the RIAA etc look like trying to hold back the sea using a pitchfork & fire
not rated yet Apr 05, 2011
If the lawmakers were really trying to help american bussiness and jobs they would enact balanced trade and get rid of over regulation. Shutting down websites is an infringement of freedom of speech and they have been shutting down politicaly incorrect sites too.
not rated yet Apr 15, 2011
This is a great article and is good to know that our legislators are finally doing something about it. To learn more about how counterfeited goods are affecting your brand or business read the following article
not rated yet Apr 15, 2011
Counterfeit goods are not coming from the piracy mentioned here. Very VERY few people in the usa are burning and re-selling copies of software or movies and selling them as counterfeit new.

If people are selling burned downloaded movies it's certainly known by those purchasing them that they ARE fake, and the "brand" is not hurt.

Anyone in the usa who thinks their "Brand" is being hurt by Counterfeit goods that are related to this article are probably just deluding themselves. If few people are buying your product it probably just means you have a crap product, not that people are pirating it.

What hurts a brand is Draconian DRM, inflated prices, and the quality of the product.
not rated yet Apr 18, 2011
This article was very informative and it is good to know that our legislators are finally doing something about this problem. I read this article that gives your more insight into the problem.
not rated yet Apr 18, 2011
Hmmmm You've been spamming this site to many other websites as well, telling people to go there for more information. Want to give more info here instead of repeating yourself while giving no actual information at all?

Also not a huge fan of and how they track those who visit sites through them. You've got a large amount of space here on the forums, why not just put out the whole link?

Quatro40, Who is negatively affected by media piracy? There are already a slew of laws in place to protect copyright holders, why are these laws not good enough? Why is it important to shift the policing of copyright infringement from the businesses who own the copyrights to the Tax Supported Government agencies outlined in this article?

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