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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 11/18/2010

update: Senate anti-piracy bill provokes battle between Hollywood and Web giants

By Cecilia Kang

Update: The Senate Judiciary Committee, in an executive session, voted in favor of the bill. It now moves to the full Senate for a vote at a time to be determined.On Thursday morning, a Senate Judiciary committee will consider legislation to combat Internet counterfeiting that has pitted Hollywood and television networks against Web giants Amazon, Google and Yahoo over how law enforcement authorities should prevent digital theft.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) with the backing of 17 senators, would allow law enforcement to scrap infringing sites by taking down the domain names of the most egregious copyright offenders. If approved by the subcommittee, the measure would proceed to the full Senate for vote.

The controversial legislation has attracted powerful supporters and detractors who have ramped up lobbying campaigns around the bill this week.

On one side, the music, movie and television industries have supported the bill, saying that counterfeiting of their products won't cease unless there are stronger sanctions in place. They say that existing rules have done little to curb counterfeiting and piracy.

"The economic impact of these activities -- millions of lost jobs and dollars -- is profound," Bob Pisano, president of the Motion Picture Association of America wrote in an editorial in The Hill on Tuesday.

On the other side, Internet networking engineers and privacy advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue that the takedown of domain names could destabilize the structure of the Web.

They are joined in opposing the measure by companies such as eBay,, Bloomberg, Google and Wikipedia, who wrote Leahy on Monday, cautioning against provisions in the bill that they say would give federal law enforcement too much power to police infringing activity.

NetCoalition, a group that represents those Web firms, expressed concern that the Justice Department could go after infringing Web sites by forcing partners -- the order domain name system servers, financial transaction providers and advertising networks -- to discontinue services to the illegal site.

The practice, "raises a host of questions that necessitate thorough review," the group wrote, urging Leahy to postpone a full Senate vote on the bill until the new Congress comes into power. Instead, the group said that the courts are best suited to oversee the global Internet.

Related stories:

Internet pioneers protest Senate anti-piracy bill

By Cecilia Kang  | November 18, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  copyright  
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None of these controversial bills should be voted on in a lame duck session of the Congress.

Posted by: moonwatcher2001 | November 18, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The power to regulate is the power to destroy.

Posted by: TheBabu | November 18, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

To be fair (and balanced), I did not read the full article. I started to, then just skimmed over about 1/3rd, then I stopped so I could post my comment.

Is this issue really important? No offense meant, Ms. Kang. But, Senator Leahy, this question is for you, and all of Congress really. Is it that important now? In light of the economy? of our unemployment, (of which I'm one of millions)?

How about you represent "we the people" again for a change? I could even throw in tightening the borders far above this one. Get in "touch" with reality, and quick, Congress. This past election ought to have sent a message, Congress! Do better, or you're OUT!

Posted by: davedeltawhiskeybravo | November 18, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like Due Process of the Law, does it?
Oops - pardon me - I forgot that such an expression offends the present lame ducks.

Posted by: Aggytater | November 18, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the above commenter that this isn't the most important issue that needs dealing with at the moment. However, as an amateur writer and website developer, it is important to me from the standpoint that theft of intellectual property is THEFT; and the thieves should be criminally pursued and prosecuted.

The biggest drawback to accomplishing this, though, is the fact that the U.S. laws will have no effect in other countries nor will there be anyone in those other countries attempting to enforce U.S. laws. In many of those countries, piracy is a home business. It helps to put food on the table for these folks.

This is like the "war on drugs" in some ways. It's an exercise in futility. As long as there is a demand, there will always be a supplier. Free or cheap is very tempting for even the law-abiding in the U.S. Furthermore, many don't even realize that they're stealing or breaking any laws when they download that movie or song onto their computer.


Tampa, Florida, USA

Posted by: vtel57 | November 18, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Taking anything offered for sale without paying is THEFT. Enter any store and tell them you're going to "share" what they have there with others for free. In any commercial arena theft will get you arrested, and online theft should as well.

Otherwise, why would content producers spend their lives pursuing their craft so that others could take it for free?

Online protections are a must for all content producers. Otherwise we'll have a society that assumes ANYTHING YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IS OKAY... Which, of course, is where we're at right now.

Posted by: jcluma | November 18, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

It's about time that the copyright holders paid the full cost of prosecuting piracy.

Posted by: con_byrne | November 18, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Leahy is simply doing the bidding of those he represents. In this case Hollywood. They paid for him fair and square. Those who have a problem with this shouldn't whine now, they had an opportunity to buy Leahy, it's not his fault they were too cheap to win the auction.

Posted by: robert17 | November 19, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

"Taking anything offered for sale without paying is THEFT"

They offer water for sale in bottles, but I drink it for free from the tap.

That must make me a master thief.

So, your stupid rant aside, lets talk about copyright infringement as represented by this article and by the bill proposed.

This is not a moral crusade. This is simply not worth getting excited about. The fact that if you look on the internet and can find porn, some music and even some movies is a big fat "so what?".

The bulk of people who are willing to pay for movies and music are already doing so. The fact that a bunch of kids may download some mp3s doesn't mean anything except prove that people wlll take anything if its free.

So what? It hardly seems worth throwing out our laws to enrich Hollywood and Nashville.+

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Posted by: dsfgsdhfsd | November 19, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

C'mon people ... are you all so naive ??? This is a total TROJAN HORSE... They don't care about file sharing sites, those legal issues have already been decided. In the very broad name of "COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT", This piece of legislation is a blatant means to shut down all web sites and blogs that may be in any way critical to POTUS and his Democratic minions. For example, for the thousands (millions?) of web sites and blogs that may incorporate an "unlicensed" photo or illustration of Barack Obama to drive home an editorial message, they would ALL be GUILTY and subject to the indiscriminate and arbitrary ability to pull the plugs on those sites ! These power mongering thugs should in no way be allowed to have such universal and far reaching editorial power in their control. NO WAY, NO HOW !

Posted by: buddy_cabot | November 21, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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