Back in May, US senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced Senate Bill S.968. This bill is also known as the Protect IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property) of 2011. The bill is aimed at giving the government the power of copyright enforcement online. The bill is currently on hold.
The proponents of the legislation point to the wide range of intellectual property abuses on the Internet. If passed into law, Protect IP would allow the US government to directly offline websites that are infringing. As we have heard for years from the RIAA and MPAA, IP theft results in the loss of billions in revenues yearly.
Opponents object to giving the government the power to offline websites. There are due process concerns as well as free speech concerns. As we have seen in other countries, these types of powers lend themselves to misuse to silence opposition. There are also technical concerns as the bill mandates certain facets of DNS.
Yesterday, on the Intellectual Property Briefing site, Jeff Kettle posted an article on the bill.
“The most recent opposition has been the ‘Professors’ Letter.’ Backed by ‘108 professors from 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico,’ this report to the members of Congress addresses three major issues with the Protect IP Act. The report states that the Act ‘has grave constitutional infirmities, potentially dangerous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, and will undermine United States foreign policy and strong support of free expression on the Internet around the world.’”
Let’s hope the US legislature listens to all parties involved.