Introduction of House Online Piracy Legislation Sets Off Storm of Controversy
By Anandashankar Mazumdar and Amy Bivins
Within minutes of the announcement of the introduction on Oct. 26 of the Stop Online Piracy Act, there was a flurry of statements from supporters and, particularly, from detractors denouncing the legislation.
H.R. 3261, introduced by Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is a counterpart to the Senate’s Protect IP Act, S. 968. Both bills seek to give the government tools to combat websites that give access to infringing material and counterfeit goods and to act against unauthorized streaming of content.
The House Judiciary Committee has already scheduled a hearing on the bill for Nov. 16.
New Enforcement Tools
The bill would expand law enforcement’s existing authority to tackle infringement of intellectual property online and provide a mechanism for rights holders to protect their rights, as well. It includes a four-track process to be used against websites trafficking in counterfeit goods and services.
First, the bill would maintain the attorney general’s authority to seek injunctive relief against and block domestic websites engaged in online piracy and counterfeiting. Second, it would give the attorney general the authority to seek injunctive relief against websites hosted on foreign top-level domains and an ability to seek a court order to block infringing websites from accessing the U.S. market.
Under this proposal, rights holders would have a two-step process for addressing infringement on websites hosted on both domestic and foreign top-level domains.
Before seeking injunctive relief, a rights holder would be required to contact financial intermediaries and online advertising providers and request that they sever ties with a rogue website. The rights owner could only seek an injunction from a court against the rogue site if the intermediaries and advertisers do not sever ties with the site.
The Senate version would permit rights owners to seek injunctive relief without exhausting these private avenues. That bill, the Protect IP Act, was approved by the Judiciary Committee on May 26 (82 PTCJ 146, 6/3/11).
Title I: Foreign Websites Targeted
The text of H.R. 3261 captions the bill as a bill “to promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.”…Tweet this!