This proposed COICA Bill could allow US Government to shut down domains within the states and abroad that are suspected of piracy or sale of counterfeit goods.
A Bipartisan group of Senators met this Monday, September 20 with the express purpose of introducing legislation to address “the growing problem of online piracy and counterfeiting”. This session saw the birth of a Bill titled the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
The COICA Bill would allow the US government to play a more direct role in policing of domain names involved in piracy;
The Bill, if passed, would allow the US government through the Department of Justice to seek a court order against a domain name suspected that has been reported as advertising, offering for sale or otherwise offering for download pirated music, movies and counterfeit goods.
The COICA is not specifically limited to Websites in the US, it would allow the government to respond to piracy and counterfeits abroad by preventing those domains from being accessed from within the US;
Over at DNWire, Andrew Allemann brought up an important potential problem that the government may run into while blocking access to these foreign domains;
“Why is this a problem? Well, what if Saudi Arabia suddenly passed a bill requiring sites about womens’ rights to be blocked? I suppose China and Iran already has similar rules though… It’s a slippery slope. What exactly is promoting counterfeit goods? I can envision circumstances where this bill is twisted to go after legitimate domain names. In general I’m not a fan of slippery slope arguments. But if this passes, be aware that similar — and perhaps overreaching — bills could follow.”
The full Bill, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, is available courtesy of DomainIncite (here),
Senators Leahy and Hatch recognized the need to cross party lines to come together and pass the COICA in the interest of protecting American companies and the key role protecting US intellectual property rights plays in protecting American interests at home and abroad;
“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,” said Leahy. “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.”
“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.”
Internet Attorneys should keep abreast of developments in the legislature surrounding the new COICA Bill. It will be interesting to see whether the Bill passes as it is currently formulated, as one commentator said;
“That’s right folks – if this bill passes, the US would get its very own Chinese-style national firewall.”