US Senators Propose Bill To Censor Any Sites The Justice Depatement Declares 'Pirate' Sites, Worldwide
from the like-youtube-and-scribd? dept
The entertainment industry’s favorite two Senators, Patrick Leahy (who keeps proposing stronger copyright laws) and Orin Hatch (who once proposed automatically destroying the computers of anyone caught file sharing) have now proposed a new law that would give the Justice Department the power to shut down websites that are declared as being “dedicated to illegal file sharing.” Other Senators signed on to sponsor the bill are: Sens. Herb Kohl, Arlen Specter, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Evan Bayh and George Voinovich. Perhaps these Senators should brush up on their history.
They do realize, of course, that Hollywood (who is pushing them for this law) was established originally as a “pirate” venture to get away from Thomas Edison and his patents, right? Things change over time. Remember that YouTube, which is now considered by Hollywood to be mostly “legit,” had been derided as a “site dedicated” to “piracy” in the past. It’s no surprise that the Justice Department — with a bunch of former RIAA/MPAA lawyers on staff — would love to have such powers, but it’s difficult to see how such a law would be Constitutional, let alone reasonable. And finally, we must ask, yet again, why the US federal government is getting involved in what is, clearly, a civil business model issue? The Senators quote the already debunked US Chamber of Commerce reports on the “harm” of intellectual property — which just shows how intellectually dishonest they’re being. They’re willing to base a censorship law on debunked data.
Oh, and even worse, this proposed law is supposed to cover sites worldwide, not just in the US. For a country that just passed a libel tourism law to protect Americans from foreign judgments, it’s a bit ridiculous that we’re now trying to reach beyond our borders to shut down sites that may be perfectly legal elsewhere. The way that the law, called the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act,” would work is that the Justice Department could ask a court to declare a site as a “pirate” site and then get an injunction that would force the domain registrar or registry to no longer resolve that domain name.
It’s difficult to see how this is anything other than a blatant censorship law. I can’t see how it passes an even simple First Amendment sniff test. It’s really quite sickening to see US Senators propose a law that is nothing less than censorship, designed to favor some of their biggest donors in the entertainment industry, who refuse to update their own business models.