New anti-piracy legislation to go before Congress

new anti piracy legislation to go before congress library of  reading room

In a rare sign of bipartisan cooperation, members of Congress have come together to propose a piece of legislation to fight digital piracy. The new law is set to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and would specifically target websites that the legislation says are “dedicated to making infringing activities”.

According to a report from the website, the bill, which was co-sponsored by the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), will be discussed this Thursday.

Once the bill begins to receive action, expect several, and inevitable challenges as to what constitutes a website that is “dedicated to making infringing activities”.

The language of the bill- which will almost certainly be immediately challenged in court- states that any website that is “primarily designed, has no demonstrable, commercially significant purpose or use other than…to offer goods or services in violation of title 17, United States Code” will face shutdown.

Once the law begins to be discussed, the committee can, and likely will, apply for a temporary injunction against domestic based websites accused of violating the law. This will include most U.S.-based bit torrent sites, as well as any search engines that look for material that is then used in peer-to-peer sharing.

As for foreign websites, they would receive a cease and desist order to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offering by an internet site dedicated to infringing activities.”

Once a website is served with an injunction, they will have the right to appeal, which will then send it to the federal courts.

The potential law has the support of several major entertainment industry groups, including companies like Viacom, which owns MTV, Harmonix, and many media and entertainment groups. Expect more groups to throw in their support as well, and expect many lawsuits to follow.

The other sponsors of the bill are: Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Orin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (D-PA), George Voinovich (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).