U.S senators are currently working on legislation to be introduced this year which will go after websites that offer access to digital piracy or counterfeit goods. The primary sponsor of a bill proposed in 2010 said it would give government agencies more authority to shut down those sites, according to an article.
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, promised Wednesday that he is currently working on a bill that will attack these websites, although he did not say how similar the new bill would be to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act(COICA).
COICA-, would have given the U.S. Department of Justice permission to forcefully shut down domain name registrars, halting the attached website that infringing on current copyright laws.
Leahy and other senators listened to multiple complaints about COICA during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, although several people argued that the U.S. government needs to take immediate action in order to protect U.S. businesses against copyright infringement, an article stated.
"I contend that America is on the losing end of the largest transfer of wealth through theft and piracy in the history of mankind," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat. "We're doing virtually nothing about it."
Since November, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has obtained court orders to shut down more than 100 websites for alleged copyright infringement, even without the new authority in COICA. On Monday, ICE announced it had seized the domain names of 18 websites offering counterfeit jewelry, handbags, perfume and other products, the article stated.
Critics of COICA have commented this new bill would effectively trample over free speech rights on websites that feature forums, reviews and other information, in addition to selling digital or physical goods. Several Internet engineers have stated that COICA could fragment the Internet's domain name system.
Representatives of Visa and domain-name registrar GoDaddy.com said they would think a process where companies can collaborate to fight online copyright infringement would be the best solution.
Thomas Dailey, vice president and deputy general counsel at Verizon (News - Alert) Communications, suggested small tweeks to COICA that would make it more acceptable to Internet service providers, including a limit on the amount of domain-name seizures the DOJ could ask for before ISPs are paid for the cost of compliance. Dailey also suggested that domain-name seizures should be used only in extreme circumstances, when less restrictive methods were previously attempted but didn't work.
Many other groups of people have valid concerns, Dailey told senators. "We also note that the new approaches to combating online piracy in the legislation raise complex issues, and that government-sanctioned website blocking represents a major shift in U.S. policy that requires careful consideration and input from a wide variety and group of stakeholders," Dailey said.
Author Scott Turow and Tom Adams, president and CEO of language-learning software maker Rosetta Stone, pleaded with senators to take drastic steps in order to protect U.S. intellectual property. People using search engines can find countless websites that offer fake Rosetta Stone software, Adams said.
"Over the past several years, we've frankly been under attack, by pirates and counterfeiters," Adams said. "American companies today are losing the battle against these counterfeiters."Jamie Epstein is a TMCnet Web Editor. Previously she interned at News 12 Long Island as a reporter's assistant. After working as an administrative assistant for a year, she joined TMC (News - Alert) as a Web editor for TMCnet. Jamie grew up on the North Shore of Long Island and holds a bachelor's degree in mass communication with a concentration in broadcasting from Five Towns College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jamie Epstein