Senate Judiciary members reintroduce counterfeiting bill

Senate Judiciary Committee members reintroduced a controversial bill Thursday aimed at curbing the sale of counterfeit items online. 

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said the bill will crack down on the worst infringers. 

The bill is updated from last year's controversial effort, which passed out of committee but drew strong opposition from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in ways that aim to narrow its mandate. For instance, it has a narrower definition of an Internet site “dedicated to infringing activities."

"The PROTECT IP Act targets the most egregious actors, and is an important first step to putting a stop to online piracy and sale of counterfeit goods," Leahy said. 

The content industry praised the effort. Michael O'Leary, executive vice president for government affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America, said: "We want to thank Chairman Leahy, Senator Hatch and the other co-sponsors for recognizing the true cost of online content theft and for seeking new tools to effectively enforce U.S. laws on the online marketplace."

Intellectual property advocates say online theft bleeds millions of dollars from the economy every year.