Proposed Legislation Would Shut Down File-Sharing Sites

Sep 21, 2010 8:00 AM PST
WASHINGTON — A group of senators wants to give the Justice Department the power to shut down websites dedicated to illegal file sharing and that traffic in pirated downloads.

"The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on these rogue websites regardless of whether the website's owner is located inside or outside of the U.S." according to a statement from Patrick Leahy , chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Republican committee member Orin Hatch.

Titan general counsel Gill Sperlien told XBIZ that even though he hasn’t read the proposed legislation, he believes it would give the government too much power.

“While I generally support efforts to help artists protect their intellectual property, the idea that the federal government might block access of its citizens to certain websites is very alarming,” he said. “This issue needs very careful discussion and consideration.”

Under the plan, the Justice Department would file a civil action against accused pirate domain names. The Attorney General could then request that the court issue an order finding that the domain name in question is dedicated to infringing activities.

That would give the Justice Department the authority to serve the accused site's U.S.- based registrar with an order to shut down the site.

If passed, the bill would also give "the Attorney General the authority to serve the order on other specified third parties at its discretion, including Internet service providers, payment processors, and online ad network providers."

The bill could have far reaching impacts on Google and the major ISPs.

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