Senate Judiciary Approves PROTECTIP Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee
didn't waste any time passing the PROTECT IP Act in a markup Thursday. The bill
takes aim at rogue overseas web sites pirating content, including TV shows and

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.

"We applaud the Senate Judiciary
Committee for its quick approval of the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 and we urge the
Senate to pass this important legislation this year," said National Cable
& Telecommunications Association President Michael Powell. "By
cracking down on rogue websites that have for too long encouraged the theft of
valuable content and intellectual property, the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 sends a
strong message that this illicit practice will no longer be tolerated. 
We'll continue to work closely with Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy, Ranking
Member Grassley, and Sen. Hatch to move this important legislation forward."

"We congratulate Chairman Leahy and
Ranking Member Grassley for their dedication and leadership in support of the
PROTECT IP Act..." said the American Federation of Musicians, American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, the
Screen Actors Guild and others in a joint statement.

"Today's decisive action by
the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the PROTECT IP Act sends a clear
message that rogue sites-those devoted to the sale of counterfeit goods or
distribution of pirated content-have no place in the legitimate
marketplace,:" said the U.S. chamber of Commerce.

Public Knowledge, one of the groups that has issues with the bill, called it overbroad, ripe for abuse and bad international precedent. Though it supports combating online piracy, PK thinks this is not the way to go about it. "So the question is, is an ineffective bill worth the risk of damaging free speech and the functioning of the Internet? We say no."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.