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NYT Discusses the Proposed PROTECT IP Act, Pits IP Owners Against Google

Last week, the NYT published an article on the proposed “PROTECT IP Act,” the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011.

The article frames the issue as pitting those in favor of a means to better enforce IP rights on the Internet against those in favor of free Internet. Or to put faces on those interest groups, the Motion Picture Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce versus the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Google. That’s how many have couched the debate.

I’m all for a free Internet, believe me. But I’m also (obviously) all for IP rights. And I can say that IP owners are getting killed by overseas infringers — particularly counterfeiters. The article characterizes enforcement efforts through our current system as playing the arcade game of “Whac-a-Mole,” and that’s an apt comparison. It’s a real challenge to enforce a federal court’s injunction against someone who has never set foot in the States, has no bank accounts here, has no property here, and often doesn’t care what a U.S. judge says.

Others are in a better position to discuss the merits of the proposed statute, and the current state of the legislation. I know many are harshly critical of it. But from my daily practice, it is abundantly clear that U.S.-based IP owners need a helping hand. Whether the Protect IP Act is the best way to do that remains an open question.

Posted on December 18, 2011 by Registered CommenterMichael Atkins | Comments1 Comment

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Reader Comments (1)

Michael, what troubles me most is the corporate self-help provision. Here it is in SOPA:

No cause of action shall lie in any Federal or State court or administrative agency against, no person may rely in any claim or cause of action against, and no liability for damages to any person shall be granted against, a service provider, payment network provider, Internet advertising service, advertiser, Internet search engine, domain name registry, or domain name registrar for taking any action described in section 102(c)(2), section 103(d)(2), or section 103(b) with respect to an Internet site, or otherwise voluntarily blocking access to or ending financial affiliation with an Internet site, in the reasonable belief that--
(1) the Internet site is a foreign infringing site or is an Internet site dedicated to theft of U.S. property; and
(2) the action is consistent with the entity's terms of service or other contractual rights."

Dense stuff for sure, and it's necessary to run down the cross references, but if I'm reading it right, it basically gives Hollywood, banks and ISPs a path to bypass government, police, the courts, altogether. In that respect, it mirrors the pact Hollywood and the ISPs entered into this summer, a protocol for degrading and then denying service to consumers who are on Hollywood's suspect list.
December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Carleton

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