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Coalition targets House in online piracy battle

October 5, 2011

Members of a broad coalition of industry and labour groups have stepped up their campaign to rally support for legislation that would give them new tools to crack down on foreign websites engaged in piracy and counterfeiting by lobbying the US House of Representatives en masse.

Some 40 representatives of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy had arranged to meet on Tuesday with House leaders and key members of the House Judiciary Committee to lobby on behalf of the legislation.

The coalition, organised by the US Chamber of Commerce, is made up of a broad range of stakeholders, from the Association of American Publishers to software maker Autodesk to unions such as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The latest lobbying initiative is similar to one the coalition made last summer in the Senate.

Monster Cable General Manager and Vice President of Operations David Tognotti complained that current Intellectual Property laws didn’t give brand owners the tools they need to fight such websites.

Legislation approved in May by the Senate Judiciary Committee would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order requiring third parties such as advertisers or Internet registrars to stop doing business with foreign websites that offer pirated content or counterfeit products.

That bill, however, has been blocked from moving to the Senate floor by Senator Roy Wyden (D-Ore) He and other critics of the legislation say it will stifle free speech and innovation. According to Wyden, he is not under pressure from his colleagues to remove his hold on the legislation despite the heavy lobbying.

House Judiciary leaders also are working on their own version of the bill. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has revealed that he is hoping to introduce legislation next week which would differ from the Senate measure.

“We have some different ideas, but we are working with the Senate every step of the way so much so that we hope that what we do will be acceptable to the Senate and will be a bipartisan bill,” Smith confirmed. “We’re trying to follow the prototype of the patent bill.”

After passing its own version of the patent legislation, the Senate ultimately cleared the House’s version and sent it to the President, who signed the bill into law last month.


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