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Judiciary Passes Online Piracy Protection Bill

The Senate
Judiciary Committee Thursday unanimously approved the Combating Online
Infringement and Counterfeits Act, a bipartisan bill that would give the
Justice Department more power to shut down
Web sites that illegally stream or sell TV shows and movies. That move
immediately drew the praise of the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association and Hollywood studios concerned about
online piracy of their product.

"We applaud
Chairman Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee for advancing the
Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), important
legislation that will empower the Department of
Justice to crack down on websites which illegally provide access to
valuable copyrighted video content," said NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow.
"Online piracy and the distribution of illegal content are significant
problems that harm America's content industry
and consumers.  We look forward to continuing to work with Chairman
Leahy and the other members of the Committee to improve this legislation
as it moves through the Senate."

The bill
would give Justice more power to pull the plug on U.S. sites it found to
be offering "infringing content" by suspending the domain name of theoffender.

For sites based outside the U.S., Justice would be able to serve an
infringement court order on ISPs and ad network providers requiring them
to stop doing business with the website, by, among other things,
"blocking online access to the rogue site or not processing
the website's purchases." But it would also include protections against
possible overreach, including allowing only the Justice Department to
initiate an action against an infringing site, and giving a federal
court the final say on whether a domain would
be suspended and the site operator the right to petition to have the
order lifted.

"It will
take a strong, sustained effort to stop Internet thieves and
profiteers," said MPAA President Bob Paisano. "We believe 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 health."

MPAA argues
that "rogue" video sites threatens the livelihoods of more than 2.4
million middle class jobs in the TV and film industry.

online TV streaming sites will become increasingly important as
broadband becomes a larger portion of the content delivery chain.

"We 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. PK is a fair use lobby that is concerned about
overprotection of content to the detriment of legitimate uses. "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."

Putting an exclamation point on the jobs issue was an alliance of unions comprising the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the and Screen Actors Guild (SAG).

"Our four guilds and unions commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for unanimously reporting S.3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, and recommending the bill for consideration and passage by the full Senate," they said in statement. "The bill will give U.S law enforcement agencies more effective tools to fight the foreign profiteers who threaten our member's livelihoods by trafficking in stolen content."

That is more than 300,000 members, they point out. "The forsaken jobs and looted revenues that are so casually disregarded by both the operators of rogue sites and those who seek to protect their illegal activity reflect real wages, residuals, benefits and opportunities lost to our members forever thanks to those who knowingly and purposely traffic in Internet theft." the unions said.