US Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is urging leading payment processors to prevent use of their payment networks by websites that are dedicated to online copyright infringement.
While Visa and MasterCard both have policies prohibiting the use of their cards for illegal activities, a recent study released by the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames revealed that 29 of 30 leading websites known as ‘cyberlockers’,which exist to unlawfully store and disseminate infringing files around the world, rely on Visa and MasterCard to process payments. Leahy, who has long stressed the responsibility that all business have in minimising the prevalence of websites dedicated to infringement, sent letters to Visa and MasterCard on November 24 calling on them to step up their efforts. “In recent years, strides have been made to help reduce online infringement—and payment processors have played a role in that progress. But more can and should be done,” Leahy wrote in letters to Charles Scharf, Chief Executive Officer of Visa, and Ajaypal Banga, Chief Executive Office of MasterCard.
“The cyberlockers listed in the NetNames report bear clear red flags of having no legitimate purpose or activity,” Leahy added. “I ask Visa to swiftly review the complaints against those cyberlockers and to ensure that payment processing services offered by Visa to those sites, or any others dedicated to infringing activity, cease. I also urge you to continue working with copyright owners to develop methods and practices for the efficient investigation of sites alleged to engage in infringement. Voluntary agreements, developed and refined over time between the relevant stakeholders, hold great promise for addressing the problem of infringement online.”