Alternative To PIPA/SOPA Proposed; Points Out That This Is An International Trade Issue

from the it-is-a-trade-issue,-isn't-it dept

While the MPAA has been pretending that there are no alternatives beyond the insanity that is PIPA and SOPA, some in Congress have actually been hard at work on trying to think through the specific issues. And one key point has become clear: this isn't a law and order issue, but an international trade issue. Nearly all of the complaints are about the problem of "foreign" sites sending goods across the border into the US. So it makes absolutely no sense that this issue isn't under the purview of the Finance Committee, whose job it is to oversee international trade. Thus, a bill is being worked on that tackles the issues as an international trade issue. A "discussion draft" is being circulated on this (embedded below).

This new effort has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and unlike SOPA and PIPA, seeks to try to focus in on situations that are actually problematic. In the Senate, it has the backing of Senators Cantwell, Moran, Paul, Warner and Wyden. All of whom had come out against PIPA, except for Warner. Adding him to this issue is big, given his experience in the business world. On the House side, it's Reps. Chaffetz, Campbell, Doggett, Eshoo, Issa and Lofgren. The focus would be putting the issue into the International Trade Commission, where there are experts focused on trade issues.

I think this is an approach that absolutely makes sense for counterfeit physical goods and the websites that sell them. Frankly, it's bizarre that it ever went beyond a discussion of international trade. It becomes somewhat trickier with copyright issues, and that's because you now have questions about how physical borders apply to digital networks. And I'm not sure I know how to best deal with that. Separately, having seen the ITC process on patents go off the rails at times, and become more of a way for patent holders to issue a "double whack" against a company they accuse of infringement, I'd be concerned about making sure that this process doesn't allow for two bites at the same apple. If it's properly focused on just foreign sites, that might not be as big an issue.

Either way, the devil will be in the details, but the details are still being written. Seeing as this is a discussion draft, I'm hearing that the folks involved really do want a discussion (unlike what we got with SOPA/PIPA), and that includes folks here. Take a look at the draft, and weigh in, knowing that some of the folks involved really will be reading what you have to say.

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  1. icon
    average_joe (profile), 3 Dec 2011 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re:

    In fact, it is exactly the type of trade that the ITC typically deals with:

    If buying fake NFL jerseys and downloading illicit mp3's over the internet was already the "type of trade the ITC typically deals with," then there would be no need to change the law--the ITC would already have jurisdiction. But obviously they're talking about changing the law so that the ITC would have jurisdiction.

    As I said to Mike above, the ITC, as the name suggests, deals in international trade. If I buy a fake NFL jersey from fakeNFLjersey.com located in Mexico, I'm not an importer subject to U.S. trade regulations, rules, tariffs, quotas, and agreements like NAFTA. Give me a break.

    Congress can certainly give the ITC authority, but don't pretend like this is what the ITC already does.

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