While Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) author Lamar Smith is pressing ahead with the measure’s progress in the US House, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy has said that he would remove a controversial provision from his Protect IP Act bill that aims to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites.
Leahy told Vermont Public Radio he would be willing to remove language that would allow a court to order service providers to redirect US users away from websites that are primarily used to offer pirated music, movies and other content and counterfeit goods.
“I’ve authorised my staff to tell … the other Senators that I’m willing to hold that back in the final piece of legislation,” Leahy said. “That in itself will remove a lot of the opposition that we now have.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote January 24 on whether to allow Protect IP to proceed to the floor for debate. Senator Ron Wyden has been blocking the bill since it was approved by the Judiciary Committee in May
“I will therefore propose that the positive and negative effects of this provision be studied before implemented, so that we can focus on the other important provisions in this bill, which are essential to protecting American intellectual property online, and the American jobs that are tied to intellectual property,” Leahy said in a later statement
“I regret that law enforcement will not have this remedy available to it when websites operating overseas are stealing American property, threatening the safety and security of American consumers. However, the bill remains a strong and balanced approach to protecting intellectual property through a no-fault, no-liability system that leverages the most relevant players in the Internet ecosystem.”
Another provision would allow the US Attorney General to seek a court order requiring online advertisers and payment processors to stop doing business with foreign websites focused primarily on providing pirated content or counterfeit goods
A spokesman for Wyden said the Senator would continue to oppose the legislation. “Unfortunately, simply removing the provisions still leaves us with a bill that establishes a censorship regime that threatens speech, innovation, and the future of the American economy,” he claimed
The House Judiciary Committee began marking up the SOPA bill last month, but postponed final action until after lawmakers return from their holiday break next week.
Michael O’Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) suggested that Leahy’s leadership would help forge an even broader consensus for the bill.“We understand that Senator Leahy is working to get the best bill passed by Congress to end the detrimental impact of foreign rogue sites on American consumers, key industries and the economy. We fully support Senator Leahy in his efforts to protect US consumers against online theft, and look forward to working with him to pass this important piece of legislation that will protect American jobs and creativity,” he said in a statement.
“Senator Leahy’s leadership today will help forge an even broader consensus for this bill, and we look forward to working with the Senator and other interested parties in passing a strong bill utilising the remaining tools at our disposal to protect American jobs and creativity. We continue to believe that DNS filtering is an important tool, already used in numerous countries internationally to protect consumers and the intellectual property of businesses with targeted filters for rogue sites. We are confident that any close examination of DNS screening will demonstrate that contrary to the claims of some critics, it will not break the Internet,” he declared.