Senate Intros Online Infringement Bill

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Washington - Sep 20, 2010 - A bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to address the growing problem of online piracy and counterfeiting. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. The legislation is cosponsored by Committee members Herb Kohl (D-WI), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and George Voinovich (R-OH) are also cosponsors of the legislation.

The legislation will give the Department of Justice tools to track and shut down websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming or sale of copyrighted content and counterfeit goods. The illegal products offered through these websites, which are often foreign-owned and operated, range from new movie and music releases, to pharmaceuticals and consumer products. Intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion every year, according to estimates.

The key points of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act:

  • Gives the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on websites that are dedicated to making infringing goods and services available.
  • Authorizes the Department of Justice to file an in rem civil action against a domain name, and seek a preliminary order from the court that the domain name is being used to traffic infringing material. The Department must publish notice of the action promptly after filing, and it would have to meet clear criteria that focus on the sites' substantial and repeated role in online piracy or counterfeiting.
  • Provides safeguards allowing the domain name owner or site operator to petition the court to lift the order.
  • Provides safeguards against abuse by allowing only the Justice Department to initiate an action, and by giving a federal court the final say about whether a particular site would be cut off from supportive services.

    Leahy and Hatch have partnered in advancing intellectual property legislation in the Senate before. They are the authors of the Patent Reform Act, which would make the first major updates to the nation's patent system in more than 55 years.

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