Senate Judiciary Slates Piracy Bill Markup


The Senate Judiciary Committee could vote an online piracy bill out of committee next week.

The committee has scheduled a markup Nov. 18 on S. 3804, Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which is sponsored by committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) among many others, including Republicans like Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

It is possible the committee could get caught up in a number of nomination also scheduled for a vote at the meeting, but online protection is an important subject for the chairman. A separate piracy bill, S. 3728, the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Protection Act, is also scheduled for mark-up.

The bill would give the Justice Department more power to shut down Web sites that illegally stream or sell TV shows and movies.

After the bill was introduced, there was almost immediate pushback from fair use groups concerned the bill could throttle services like YouTube before they ever got started. The bill is backed by Hollywood studios, though they would make it tougher still, as well as a variety of unions including AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and SAG.

The bill as introduced would give Justice more power to pull the plug on U.S. sites it found to be offering "infringing content" by suspending the domain name of the offender. For sites based outside the U.S., Justice would be able to serve an infringement court order on ISPs and ad network providers requiring them to stop doing business with the website, by, among other things, "blocking online access to the rogue site or not processing the website's purchases." It would also include protections against overreach and has since been modified somewhat after complaints about "blacklists" of sites and overbroad secondary liability.