Investors object to PROTECT IP

More than 50 venture capitalists submitted a letter to the US Congress June 23, objecting to a piece of antipiracy legislation being mulled by the Senate. The VCs, most of whom invest in technology companies, argue that Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PROTECT IP, would “stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation and hurt American competitiveness.”

PROTECT IP would give the Justice Department the ability to file civil action against the registrant or owner of a foreign-registered domain name that deals in illegal content. It also would prevent offending sites from using America’s Internet infrastructure, including ISPs, search engines and registrars.

“We appreciate the goal of combating sites truly dedicated to infringing activity, but it would undermine the delicate balance of the (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and threaten legitimate innovation,” the letter reads. “The bill is ripe for abuse, as it allows rights-holders to require third-parties to block access to and take away revenues sources for online services, with limited oversight and due process.”

The venture capitalists argue that the legislation as written would endanger the security and integrity of the Internet, and unduly burden Internet entrepreneurs with the costs to regulate overseas Internet sites.

“While we understand (the legislation) was originally intended to deal with ‘rogue’ foreign sites, we think (it) will ultimately put American innovators and investors at a clear disadvantage in the global economy,” the letter reads.

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