Originally published: May 26, 2011
Last updated: May 26, 2011 - 10:23pm
The Senate Judiciary Committee didn't waste any time passing the PROTECT IP Act in a markup May 26. The bill takes aim at rogue overseas web sites pirating content, including TV shows and movies.
The bill builds on last year's proposed COICA legislation, which would have given the government power to go to court and get a website's domain name blocked from American DNS servers. Credit card companies and advertising networks would be forbidden to do business with such sites. It is supported by the major studios, unions, broadcasters and cable operators, but fair use fans still have issues with what they say are overbroad powers that could send the wrong signal to foreign governments.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he is placing a hold on the bill: "I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective," Sen Wyden said, arguing the bill takes an "overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective. The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet."
Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director for Public Knowledge said: “We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation (S. 968) that will threaten the security and global functioning of the Internet, and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits while doing little if anything to curb the issues of international source of illegal downloads the bill seeks to address. We note that a paper on the technical aspects of the bill found that the provisions to allow Internet Service Providers to cut off access to web sites by failing to direct them via the Domain Name Service (DNS) would ‘undermine the universality of domain names,’ a fundamental building block of the Internet, would be only “minimally effective’ and would frustrate security initiatives online. The paper, by leading Internet engineers, said the bill would ‘promote development of techniques and software that circumvent use of the DNS. These actions would threaten the DNS’s ability to provide universal naming, a primary source of the Internet’s value as a single, unified global communications network.’”
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