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Online Piracy Bill Aimed at U.S. and Foreign Sites

November 19, 2010. On November 18, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-0 to approve a bill intended to curb online piracy. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, S.3804, would give the Justice Department and federal courts a new tool to crack down on websites that are dedicated to copyright piracy or that sell counterfeit goods.

The Senate bill’s principal tools empower a federal judge who finds a site to be dedicated to piracy to order the domain name of the rogue site “delisted” and to forbid credit card and other companies from clearing transactions at foreign rogue sites.  For pirate sites registered in the U.S., a court could directly order the registrar to delist the site. For pirate sites registered abroad, the court could order U.S. web routers to “forget” the address of the domain. A court could also order U.S.-based web advertisers to not display ads at rogue sites, cutting off valuable sources of revenue.

Despite the strong approval of the Judiciary Committee, the prospects of the bill, which was co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), are uncertain. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) effectively stopped it by placing it on “hold” status.  The bill is likely to be reintroduced in the new Congress in 2011.