Washington – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday
unanimously approved the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, a
bill that would empower the Justice Dept. to take action to shut off access to
websites offering unauthorized copyrighted or counterfeit content. "Rogue
websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous
products. If they existed in the physical world, the store would be shuttered
immediately and the proprietors would be arrested," said Judiciary Committee chairman
Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
"We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens
online and the owners operate overseas."
The Motion Picture Association of
America (MPAA), one of the bill’s main proponents, lauded the vote that moves
the bill to the full Senate.
"It will take a strong, sustained effort to
stop Internet thieves and profiteers," the MPAA said.
that Congress and the Administration can make a significant contribution to
that effort by turning the Leahy-Hatch bill into law and giving law enforcement
significantly enhanced tools for addressing a threat that deprives American
innovators of the fruits of their labors and menaces our nation’s economic
Other backers of the proposed legislation include the National
Music Publishers Association, Recording Industry Association of America, AFL-CIO
and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Opponents include the Consumer Electronics
Association, library groups and consumer advocates like Public Knowledge.
are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning chose to
disregard the concerns of public-interest groups, Internet engineers, Internet
companies, human-rights groups and law professors in approving a bill that
could do great harm to the public and to the Internet," said Public
Knowledge president Gigi Sohn.
"We look forward to working with the
Committee next year to craft a more narrowly tailored bill that deals with the
question of rogue Web sites."
A House version of the bill has not yet been
introduced, and it’s likely the legislation will not be taken up again until next
(DMW previous coverage)