WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved legislation to provide the Justice Department with new tools to crack down on the theft and distribution of illegal digital movies, television shows and other counterfeit material by rogue websites on the Internet. The following is a statement by Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA):
"These rogue sites exist for one purpose only: to make a profit using the Internet to distribute the stolen and counterfeited goods and ideas of others. The economic impact of these activities-millions of lost jobs and dollars-is profound. That's why dozens of labor organizations and businesses groups have come together to support the bill approved today by the Judiciary Committee.
As part of a wide ranging coalition of workers and businesses whose jobs and financial health have been placed at risk by content theft, we commend Senators Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch for their leadership on this bill. We look forward to working with them and the other cosponsors of the legislation, along with their colleagues in the House to help the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act become law.
The film and television industry alone is responsible for more than 2.4 million hard working, middle-class jobs in all 50 states. For these workers and their families, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits. Unfortunately, this means nothing to the operators of rogue websites who seek to benefit illegally from the hard work of others.
The operators of these sites use a variety of means to facilitate their goals - advertising, rentals, sales and charges for premium services. They are commonly assisted-sometimes unwittingly-- by American companies whose ads are placed on the sites by brokers. They are also often aided by enterprises that provide the financial services for their schemes.
As Sen. Leahy has noted, these are the ‘worst of the worst' online websites. The operators of these sites knowingly break the law, harm the American economy, deprive American intellectual property owners of their rights, cost American jobs and, in the case of counterfeit prescription drugs, potentially threaten the health and welfare of American consumers.
It will take a strong, sustained effort to stop Internet thieves and profiteers. 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."
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will provide the Department of Justice with tools to track and shut down websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming, or sale of copyrighted content and counterfeit goods. It will:
• Give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on websites that are dedicated to making infringing goods and services available;
• Authorize the Department of Justice to file an in rem civil action against a domain name, and seek a preliminary order from the court that the domain name is being used to traffic infringing material. The Department must publish notice of the action promptly after filing, and it would have to meet clear criteria that focus on the sites' substantial and repeated role in online piracy or counterfeiting;
• Provide safeguards allowing the domain name owner or site operator to petition the court to lift the order;
• Provide safeguards against abuse by allowing only the Justice Department to initiate an action, and by giving a federal court the final say about whether a particular site would be cut off from supportive services.