A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers released a draft proposal to address their concerns with controversial House and Senate bills that would crack down on piracy and counterfeit products on foreign websites.
Even though they agree on the need to curb online piracy and counterfeiting abroad, several of the lawmakers say Protect IP and SOPA would stifle free speech and innovation and undermine the integrity of the Internet.
In an interview late Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. said the proposal he and the other lawmakers have crafted “is focusing to the extent possible on the payment processors, the advertisers, the follow-the-money approach.” Its an approach that tech firms and other critics have been urging lawmakers to take instead of trying to block access to websites that offer infringing content or goods. “If you can take away the financial incentive, that goes a long way in dealing” with the problem, Wyden added.
Protect IP and SOPA focus on trying to cut off funding to those sites as well but they also would allow the attorney general to seek a court order requiring U.S. service providers to direct users away from websites deemed to be primarily focused on providing pirated content or counterfeit goods. Those bills also would put the Justice Department in charge of enforcing the bill’s provisions.
The proposal from Wyden and the other lawmakers would give that job to the International Trade Commission, which deals with imports alleged to infringe intellectual property. The proposal would allow intellectual property owners to appeal to the commission to investigate infringing sites. If the commission finds such sites are “primarily” and “willfully” infringing U.S. copyrights or willfully enabling imports of counterfeit merchandise, the agency would issue a cease-and-desist order requiring U.S. payment processors and advertisers to stop doing business with the sites.
“When infringement is addressed only from a narrow judicial perspective, important issues pertaining to cyber security and the promotion of online innovation, commerce and speech get neglected,” according to the proposal.
Wyden said the lawmakers will collect comments on the proposal over the next few weeks and will likely introduce it early next year.
This appears to me to be the lesser of two evils, where at least the Justice Department cannot take down web sites without Due Process.
Thanks for “listening”
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