Lawmakers offer alternative to Google-opposed piracy bill

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is circulating a proposal that would use trade laws to battle online piracy as an alternative to the controversial bills currently pending in both chambers of Congress. 

The discussion draft is authored by Sens. Maria CantwellMaria CantwellFeds crack down on coal cleanup financing Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense Remembering small business during the presidential election MORE (D-Wash.), Jerry MoranJerry MoranMeet the rising GOP star who already enrages the left GOP warming up to Cuba travel Senate clears FAA authorization bill MORE (R-Kansas), Mark WarnerMark WarnerDem senator's daughter could face Congress over EpiPen price hike Judge rejects settlement in major Uber driver status case Fidelity denies lobbying for student loan tax break MORE (D-Va.) and Ron WydenRon WydenWhy you should care about National Whistleblower AppreciatIon Day Dems push to require presidential nominees to release tax returns Legislators privacy fight coincides with FCC complaint MORE (D-Ore.) as well as Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzGOP chairman calls on Trump to release taxes The Hill's 12:30 Report Dem senator's daughter could face Congress over EpiPen price hike MORE (R-Utah), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and John Campbell (R-Calif.).

The legislation offers an alternative to the approach favored by the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would enable the government and copyright holders to demand third parties delete links to foreign websites deemed rogue or dedicated to copyright infringement. Critics argue that bill would jeopardize free speech and impose an undue burden on Web firms. 

The draft proposal would instead authorize the International Trade Commission to investigate and issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites that provide pirated content or sell counterfeit goods. The ITC would have to find that the site is "primarily" and "willfully" engaged in copyright infringement to issue the order.

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Once issued the court order would compel payment providers and online advertising services to cease providing services to the offending website. The approach comports with current copyright law and hews to the "follow the money" approach favored by Google and other tech companies.

Issa previously told Hillicon that an advantage of designating a court of continued jurisdiction is that it facilitates immediate action to prevent harm to rightsholders, particularly helpful in online copyright enforcement where dozens of mirror sites with the same pirated content can spring up at once.

The proposal would also provide firms that comply with the ITC's orders with immunity. The lawmakers intend to make a draft of their legislation public in the near future to solicit feedback and input before formally introducing the legislation in the House and Senate.

The legislation is intended as an alternative to measures backed by other business groups and the entertainment industry.