ASCAP is encouraged by the news that on September 20th a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to address the growing problem of online piracy and counterfeiting. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) joined forces to introduce S-3804, the Combating Infringement and Counterfeit Act. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee members Herb Kohl (D-WI), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and George Voinovich (R-OH) are also co-sponsors of the legislation.
Online theft of copyrighted works such as music, movies, books, software and games is a devastating problem. Such piracy costs our nation's economy roughly $58 billion in total output every year, more than 370,000 domestic jobs and $2.6 billion in tax revenue for state, local and federal governments, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Some state-of-the-art websites operate without the authorization of, or compensation to music creators, and have become tools for copyright pirates around the world. S-3804 would give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on such rogue entities. The Justice Department would target the most egregious pirate websites, go to a federal court with the evidence, and then seize the domain name. Then, the Court would issue an order to intermediaries – such as ISPs, payment processors, Internet registries and registrars, advertisers, etc. that prohibits them from doing business with such rogue sites.
Senators Leahy and Hatch have long supported music creators and have partnered numerous times to advance intellectual property legislation in the Senate. S-3804 represents a major step forward in the United States' approach to piracy and counterfeiting crisis, and is an important initiative that will positively affect all ASCAP members if passed. ASCAP will keep members posted on any further developments.
Comments from Senators Supporting the Combating Infringement and Counterfeit Act
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
"Each year, online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American businesses billions of dollars, and result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments. Protecting intellectual property is not uniquely a Democratic or Republican priority – it is a bipartisan priority."
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
"In today's global economy the Internet has become the glue of international commerce – connecting consumers with a wide-array of products and services worldwide. But it's also become a tool for online thieves to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, making hundreds of millions of dollars off of stolen American intellectual property. This legislation is critical to our continued fight against online piracy and counterfeiting. By coordinating our efforts with industry stakeholders and law enforcement officials, we'll be better able to target those who are profiting from illegal activity."
Herb Kohl (D-WI)
"This much needed bill will help law enforcement keep pace in shutting down websites that illegally sell copyrighted goods. That way we protect legitimate businesses from losing sales and consumers from being duped into purchasing counterfeit and unauthorized goods. By cracking down on online piracy of television shows and movies, we hope this bill will encourage copyright owners to develop innovative and competitive new choices for consumers to watch video over the internet."
Arlen Specter (D-PA)
"I'm happy to cosponsor this important bill with Senator Leahy to help fight online piracy and counterfeiting. It is imperative that we advance this legislation to protect the intellectual property rights of American businesses."
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
"The online sale of stolen intellectual property -- whether pirated movies or music or counterfeit electrical goods or pharmaceuticals -- hurts American companies, kills American jobs, and puts consumers at risk of defective products. This important legislation will help combat websites that often are linked to criminal syndicates, making the Internet safer for consumers and legitimate businesses."
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
"The illegal distribution of copyright-protected material over the internet is hurting our economy. As a former prosecutor, I've seen how these harmful practices can hurt good American businesses, and that's why we need to put an end to this type of theft. This bill would give law enforcement the tools it needs to clamp down on pirate internet sites."
George Voinovich (R-OH)
"In our increasingly competitive global economy, intellectual property is our last substantial competitive advantage. This bill gives the Department of Justice additional tools needed to combat counterfeiting, which ultimately protects American jobs. I've fought throughout my Senate career to protect intellectual property rights, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill."