A group of senators from both parties introduced legislation today that Hollywood hopes will greatly stem the trafficking of pirated movies, TV shows and music online.
The Preventing Real Online Threats of Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PROTECT IP Act, is aimed at so-called ”rogue websites” that trade in infringing goods. It follows legislation introduced last year that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously in November but never made it to the floor.
A coalition of industry groups, including the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the National Assn. of Theater Owners and the Independent Film and Television Alliance, said in a statement that the legislation will help crackdown on foreign websites ”operating outside of U.S. law” because they would ”no longer be allowed to exploit U.S. registrars, registries, Internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services to sustain their illicit online businesses.”
Authors of the bill say they have narrowed the scope of the previous legislation to address concerns that it would give the government too broad authority to shut down sites. The definition of a site ”dedicated to infringing activities” has been narrowed.
The legislation no longer includes a provision to streamline the legal process for the Justice Department to shut down domestic domain names of sites dedicated to trafficking in infringing goods — something that customs officials already are doing — and instead is aimed at eliminating a site’s financial viability.
It would authorize the Justice Department to seek a court order directing third party ”intermediaries” — search engines, payment processors, advertising networks and Internet service providers — to cease providing transactions and support to infringing sites.
The third parties would then be required to take action to either prevent access to the Internet site or cease doing business with them.
Copyright holders also would be given a limited ”right of action” to seek a court order against a domain name registrant, owner or domain name that is infringing on their copyrights. And the legislation is meant to streamline the process whereby federal authorities or copyright holders can bring action against sites that have been previously seized but are relaunched under a different name.
”The PROTECT IP Act targets the most egregious actors, and is an important first step to putting a stop to online piracy and sale of counterfeit goods,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who introduced the bill along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Similar legislation is expected to be introduced soon in the House.