Congress Considers Bill To Give Law Enforcement More Tools to Target Online Copyright Infringement

Washington, D.C. – The United States House of Representatives is considering a bill directed as providing law enforcement more tools to stop illegal online file sharing and copyright infringement. The bill, titled the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith of Texas on October 26, 2011. house-gov.jpgThe bill would authorize the Department of Justice to seek a court order requiring alleged infringers as well as domain names and websites to immediately cease any activities that are intellectual property criminal offenses. The bill would also create a new mechanism for seeking limited injunctive relief against the owners of domain names and websites to stop infringement occurring through their sites and domains. The bill also expands the definition of criminal copyright infringement to include public performance of copyrighted work by digital transmission or making work intended for commercial dissemination available on a computer network. The bill is also being called the E-PARISITE Act (“the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act”).

The bill is drawing criticism from a number of corners. Specifically, some critics have noted that the bill would allow the government or private parties to shut down entire websites, not just infringing content. A report from John Moe of NPR’s Marketplace, quotes extensively from Professor Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School, who stated ““What’s remarkable about this provision is that it would allow the government and in many cases private parties to come into court, get a temporary restraining order without the participation of the accused website and shut down not just the infringing material, but the whole website.”

The bill was referred to the House Judiciary subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, of which Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is a member.

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