Bill would give Justice Department power to shutter piracy sites worldwide

Logo InternetLawmakers introduced legislation Monday that would let the Justice Department seek US court orders against piracy websites anywhere in the world, and shut them down through their domain registration.

The bipartisan legislation, dubbed the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," (.pdf) amounts to the Holy Grail of intellectual-property enforcement. The recording industry and movie studios have been clamoring for such a capability since the George W. Bush Administration. If passed, the Justice Department could ask a federal court to for an injunction that would order a domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain name, so that visitors to, for example, would get a 404 error.

"In today’s global economy the Internet has become the glue of international commerce—connecting consumers with a wide-array of products and services worldwide. But it’s also become a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property," said Orin Hatch, R-UT.

But whether the proposal would ever become law is unclear.

The Bush administration in 2008 threatened to veto legislation two years ago that created the nation’s first copyright czar unless similar Justice Department powers were removed.

The White House, in successfully pressuring for a rewrite to the legislation, said the original proposal requiring the attorney general to sue copyright infringers "could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry."

Bob Pisano, the Motion Picture Association of America chief executive, applauded the measure’s introduction.

"These sites, whose content is hosted and whose operators are located throughout the world, take many forms. But they have in common the simple fact that they all materially contribute to, facilitate and/or induce the illegal distribution of copyrighted works, such as movies and television programs," Pisano said.

Source: ars technica

Tags: domains, Internet

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