New anti-piracy bill gets a thumb down from Hollywood
U.S. lawmakers introduced new anti-piracy legislation Thursday that would give the U.S. International Trade Commission the authority to crack down on foreign websites offering bootleg movies and other counterfeit goods.
But it appears unlikely that bill will come close to ending the fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley over how best to combat the spread of online piracy.
The legislation was swiftly shot down by Hollywood's chief lobbying arm, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, which argues that the ITC does not have the staffing or resources to go after rogue sites.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the bill allowing copyright owners to petition the ITC to issue cease-and-desist orders against foreign websites involved in copyright infringement.
"Building on the International Trade Commission's existing IP expertise and authority makes it possible to go after legitimate cases of IP abuse without doing irreparable harm to the Internet," Wyden said in a statement.
The measure was intended as a compromise and alternative to two other bills in Congress -- the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate -- that are fiercely opposed by Internet giants, including Google and Facebook, which view them as an overreach.
Those two bills would give the Justice Department broad powers to shut down foreign websites that host pirated material and would open the door for movie studios, music companies and other copyright holders to seek court injunctions against Internet companies they believe are aiding in copyright theft.
The MPAA maintains that the new bill "fails to provide an effective way to target foreign websites and goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting. By changing the venue from our federal courts to the U.S. International Trade Commission, it places copyright holders at a disadvantage.''
Negotiations are occurring behind the scenes to craft a compromise that would address some of Silicon Valley's concerns. The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on an amended version of the Stop Online Piracy Act next week, with a full-vote expected early next year.
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: "Wayne's World" director Penelope Spheeris in her editing studio with a poster for her latest movie, "Balls to the Wall," which was heavily pirated in Europe. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times