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 Elaine CantwellEnergy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures OPEC and Russia may raise oil output under pressure from Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (D-Wash.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranFormer USA Gymnastics CEO pleads Fifth at hearing GOP, Trump at odds on pardon power Lawmakers request meeting with Amtrak CEO over funding for route MORE (R-Kansas), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerWray defends FBI after 'sobering' watchdog report Top Dems: IG report shows Comey's actions helped Trump win election Dem senator: Trump at G-7 made me ‘embarrassed for our country’ MORE (D-Va.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDems seek to seize on data privacy as midterm issue Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Senate confirms Trump Homeland Security cyber pick MORE (D-Ore.) as well as Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzFox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself Chaffetz knocks Sessions: He's 'the attorney general in name only' 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.