S.B. 968, “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011” or PIPA the “Protect IP Act” was introduced in May. PIPA was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 17 and a cloture vote is scheduled at 2:15 PM on January 24. A cloture vote is “the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster.”
Meanwhile, H.R. 3261, “Stop Online Piracy Act”, commonly referred to as SOPA was introduced on October 26, 2011. SOPA is in the markup process in the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet.
Both bills are aimed at preventing US profit loss due to online pirating of music, videos, photographs, graphic illustrations and other copyrighted materials, made available through off-shore "rogue" websites created primarily for the purpose of distributing pirated material.
The bills would give the Attorney General the authority to:
- seek injunctive relief against the off-shore website,
- require financial transaction providers (FTPs), Internet advertising services (IASs), and providers of information location tools (ILTs) to “take reasonable specified preventative measures and (for IASs) take technically feasible and reasonable measure to prevent the activity of these websites.” (See PIPA CRS Summary),
- through the injunctive process, block access to and cut revenue sources for such websites.
- FTPs, IASs and ILTs include search engines, online directories, and other indexes that link or refer to such websites. By the way, that includes libraries.
In addition, both bills further expand a copyright holder’s power to sue infringing websites.
Proponents state this legislation will protect US copyright losses from overseas pirates. No one disagrees that piracy is bad, however opponents of the legislation are concerned that both SOPA and PIPA are overly broad, threaten free speech and fair use rights, and will inhibit free expression.
To read the full text of SOPA and PIPA and to track the legislation, visit www.thomas.loc.gov.