Momentum building for US piracy legislation

Lawmakers from both parties in Congress are gathering at the Capitol with representatives from industry to once again denounce the effects of online piracy and counterfeiting on the US economy.

“The Internet has regrettably become a cash-cow for the criminals and organised crime cartels who profit from digital piracy and counterfeit products,” said House Judiciary ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.), who will speak at the event. “Millions of American jobs are at stake because of these crimes, which is why my colleagues and I will be coming together to carefully craft legislation.”

The legislation in question will likely resemble the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) last year and approved by the full Committee. That bill would have given the Department of Justice an expedited process for taking down websites that link to pirated or counterfeit goods and content.

Leahy has promised to re-introduce the bill this year after considering criticism from advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which claims the expanded government authorities in the bill could lead to online censorship. EFF has argued measures ostensibly intended to fight copyright infringement could potentially lead to the removal of political content and restrictions on free speech. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) threatened to put a hold on the bill last year.

The coalition of support from traditional adversaries makes ths year’s push to stem online piracy the most serious in Congress to date.

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