US anti-piracy showdown looms

The proposed legislation to combat Internet counterfeiting that has pitted Hollywood and television networks against Web giants Amazon, Google and Yahoo over how law enforcement authorities should prevent digital theft.  The bill, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy with the backing of 17 senators, would allow law enforcement to scrap infringing sites by taking down the domain names of the most egregious copyright offenders. If approved by the subcommittee, the measure would proceed to the full Senate for vote.

On one side, the music, movie and television industries have supported the bill, saying that counterfeiting of their products won’t cease unless there are stronger sanctions in place. They say that existing rules have done little to curb counterfeiting and piracy.

“The economic impact of these activities — millions of lost jobs and dollars — is profound,” Bob Pisano, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said.

Opposing the measures are such as eBay, Amazon.com, Bloomberg, Google and Wikipedia, who wrote to Leahy cautioning against provisions in the bill that they say would give federal law enforcement too much power to police infringing activity.

NetCoalition, a group that represents those Web firms, expressed concern that the Justice Department could go after infringing Web sites by forcing partners — the order domain name system servers, financial transaction providers and advertising networks — to discontinue services to the illegal site.

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