PROTECT-IP (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property) supporters were on Capitol Hill yesterday discussing web sites trafficking in pirated and counterfeited products. One proponent of PROTECT-IP at the discussion was David Tognotti, General Counsel of Monster Cable. Tognotti indicated that “rogue Web sites” stole hundreds of millions in sales through selling counterfeit goods disguised as Monster products. To draw attention to these “rogue Web sites”, Monster has created a page on its site listing hundreds of sites selling counterfeit items. As mentioned on Networkworld, the list strangely includes a variety of legitimate sites that don’t appear to be directly promoting counterfeit versions of Monster Cable products.
Retailers on the list include Costco and Sears, the latter selling plenty of authorized Monster Cable products on the Sears.com site. Popular deal sites such as FatWallet, Dealspl.us and Woot were also included on the list in addition to online marketplaces eBay and Craigslist. Another extremely strange inclusion includes social networking giant Facebook. Ironically, Monster Cable has a Facebook fan page of nearly 50,000 fans, but is declaring that the site is untrustworthy according to the full blacklist. While the vast majority of the sites on the list are clearly designed to specifically sell counterfeit items, the inclusion of these legitimate sites goes against the purpose of the PROTECT-IP act and seems more like a retail control issue.
The PROTECT-IP bill is designed to give copyright holders and the Justice department the ability to obtain court orders seizing the sites’ domain names and require search engines, advertising networks and payment processing companies like Paypal to blackball them. The bill is mainly supported by the entertainment industry. However, tech entrepreneurs are concerned that the bill will stifle economic growth of startups and possibly end up harming legitimate businesses. Opposition to the bill within the tech community includes executives from Twitter, LinkedIn, Zynga, Friendster and Vonage.