Rep. Issa, Sen. Wyden announce competing bill to Judiciary’s Stop Online Piracy Act

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) unveiled the text of their online piracy bill on Thursday, intended to offer an alternative to the controversial measure currently in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act closely resembles a discussion draft of the legislation circulated last week. It would authorize the International Trade Commission to issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites deemed rogue or dedicated to copyright infringement.

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The bill is a response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) championed by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act. Those bills would allow the government and copyright holders to demand Web firms delete links to rogue sites, raising concerns about free speech.

In contrast, the OPEN Act would target only payment processors, online advertising networks and other sources of revenue for rogue sites. This "follow the money" approach has been advocated by firms such as Google, which is one of the strongest opponents of SOPA.

The OPEN Act faces an uphill battle toward passage because a number of influential lawmakers in the House have signed on to support SOPA, but sources tell Hillicon that several Judiciary members have expressed serious concern about the latter since the technology industry began protesting the bill earlier this month.

Critics charge the language in SOPA is overly broad and could without intention ensnare legitimate Web companies. Smith and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have indicated they are open to some changes to fine-tune the bill, but the pair appear determined to push ahead with their effort, which is championed by the TV and movie studios among other industry groups.