09 October 2010

Congress Targets Copyright Violators

By Benjamin Knauff, Staff Writer

          A new bill before congress could empower the US Department of Justice to shut down file sharing services that facilitate illegal copyright infringement.
           "The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on these rogue Web sites regardless of whether the Web site's owner is located inside or outside of the United States," said Vermont Senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy.
           In the case of Web sites with domain names located within the Unites States, the Act would allow the Attorney General to request an order specifying that the domain name is in violation of piracy laws. The Justice Department would then serve an order on the site registrar that they must shut down the website or face civil penalties.
          Domain names located outside of the United States will also be affected by the proposed Act, as it will entitle the Justice Department to attempt to block access to violating sites. The People’s Republic of China has imposed similar restrictions that block Chinese users from accessing social media Web sites such as Facebook.
          The Justice Department will also be authorized to cut off credit card transactions and ad-revenue originating from the United States, effectively canceling the profitability of marketing to US-based users.
          The Act could be a boon to ailing record companies, whose attempts to curb illegal music downloading through individual lawsuits appear to have been largely fruitless. Movie studios also stand to gain much from the Act, as it may be an effective measure to recoup lost revenue due to the growing popularity of Torrent Web sites, which allow users to download movies and other large files in small pieces from multiple users.
           The new Act would seem to be something of a contrast to Canada’s stance on the issue, as they have previously ruled that downloading is legal, but uploading is not.

Benjamin Knauff is a staff writer for Juris. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Westminster College (Pa) in 2008. Benjamin will graduate from the Duquesne University School of Law in June of 2011.