Rival legislation would confer authority on ITC

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) unveiled a rival antipiracy bill on Thursday that tries to combat copyright infringement using trade laws, but Hollywood studios and other content owners say the legislation would be insufficient to combat so-called rogue websites.

The Wyden-Issa bill, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, would expand the authority of the Intl. Trade Commission, which enforces copyright and trademark infringement as it applies to physical goods.

Copyright holders could petition the ITC to investigate cases of illegal digital imports, and supporters say it would take only a “matter of days” to investigate the “worst of the worst” foreign rogue sites. If the investigation finds that a foreign-registered site is “primarily” and “willfully” infringing on copyright, the commission could issue a cease-and-desist order to compel payment processors and ad networks to cut off support.”Building on the International Trade Commission’s existing IP expertise and authority makes it possible to go after legitimate cases of IP abuse without doing irreparable harm to the Internet,” Wyden said in a statement.

In contrast, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate allow federal officials to obtain court orders to force payment processors and ad networks to cut off support. , but also has measures to force search engines and Internet service providers to block links or preventing sites from resolving to a domain name.

Michael O’Leary, senior exec VP for global policy and external affairs at the MPAA, said that Wyden-Issa proposal “goes easy” on online piracy and counterfeiting. “By changing the venue from our federal courts to the U.S. International Trade Commission, it places copyright holders at a disadvantage and allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders. It even allows notification to some of these companies if they want to help advocate for rogue websites.”

He also raised the prospect that the legislation is merely a delaying tactic — as it will almost certainly require new congressional hearings — to prevent congressional action on the other legislation.

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