The proposed Protect IP Act law will cost taxpayers $47 million through 2016, according to estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The controversial legislation is intended to require Internet service providers, search engines and others to block access to websites that have been accused of facilitating copyright infringement.

This amount does not include any expenses the law would impose on ISPs and other infrastructure and tech companies. The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act requires the CBO to include an estimate of expenditure by non-Federal government entities, but the CBO said it wasn’t possible to in this case because of “uncertainty about how often and against whom the Department of Justice or copyright holders would use the authority” granted by the Protect IP Act.

The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, to give United States Senate Bill S.968 its full name, was introduced in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and currently is on hold due to intervention of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“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,” Wyden said in a statement. “At the expense of legitimate commerce, [the PROTECT IP Act]’s prescription 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.”

Google, Yahoo!, Ebay, American Express and Paypal are among the companies speaking out against the Act. So are the leading individual rights advocates, including the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy and Technology. A group of 47 venture capitalists that collectively manage over $13 billion also formally objected, noting that their investments Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, Skype, Groupon, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Foursquare, and a host of other important web services.

Among the law’s supporters are numerous entertainment-related entities including the  Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), The Recording Academy (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), all of the major rights organizations, many music publishers and record labels, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and over 100 others, along with some of the best known consumer brands like Nike, Ford, Burbury, Chanel, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-mart.

Related Links:

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Photo by flickr user awyu322, used under Creative Commons license


  1. This is a sad waste of tax payer money and the governments time. We have bigger issues to worry about than how an actress is going to afford her fake tits or how Metallica is going to feed itself. Seriously America, brain check.

  2. In the war on copyright infringement, just as in the war on terrorism, anything goes. A site owner doesn’t even have to have been found to infringe someone’s copyright – he/she just has to be accused of it. This adds a new dimension to the IP wars going on in the technology industry. A company seeking to undermine a competitor can simply accuse that competitor of copyright infringement so that the unfortunate competitor has to suffer the blockage of its website.

    If the $47 million went to good public policy, I’d be happy to see it go. Based on the way Chris Marlowe has represented this law, it doesn’t even resemble good public policy.