Chamber of Commerce Applauds Senate Committee’s Web Censorship Approval

Chamber of Commerce Applauds Senate Committee’s Web Censorship Approval

Calls it a “major step forward for protecting American jobs and consumers,” but continues to ignore the fact that when it comes to P2P sites the Combating Online Infringement & Counterfeits Act (COICA) largely won’t create new revenue from American consumers, it’ll only shift it from one sector of the economy where the money that would otherwise be used to legally buy copyrighted material is now spent.

Yesterday I mentioned how the US Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary had approved the controversial Combating Online Infringement & Counterfeits Act (COICA) by unanimous vote – 19-0, and now it seems the US Chamber of Commerce is weighing in to applaud the Bill’s forward momentum.

“Today’s Senate action on legislation,” it said following the vote, “is a major step forward for protecting American jobs and consumers.  Rogue websites—those dedicated to selling counterfeit goods and/or pirating copyrighted materials—have no place in the legitimate online market.  This bipartisan support for this common-sense legislation is mirrored by broad support in the business community and labor organizations.”

I wonder if anybody’s told the labor unions that if these “rogue sites” really are stealing American jobs then how has motion picture industry been able to enjoy year after year of record breaking profits, and a 30% increase in global ticket sales since 2005.

First proposed back in September, the COICA would give the Department of Justice an “expedited process” for cracking down on websites that illegally make copyrighted material available, including the ability to “prevent the importation into the United States of goods and services offered by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities.”

The Bill’s sponsors believe the COICA would finally give the Dept of Justice the tools it needs to track and shut down “websites devoted to providing access to unauthorized downloads, streaming or sale of copyrighted content and counterfeit goods.”

“Criminals who operate these sites are profiting from others’ innovation and creativity,” it adds. “Their illegal activities cost the American economy billions of dollars and deprive creators of their livelihood.”

But, the COICA will hardly address any of these problems. When it talks about “creators” it’s really talking about copyright holders in the creative industries like music, movies, books, TV, etc., and filtering P2P sites that offer this content won’t capture any new revenue. Aside from the fact that the operators of theses sites largely don’t profit from allowing people to SHARE files for free, the COICA will only siphon revenue from US industries where file-sharers currently spend money that they would otherwise spend on purchasing copyrighted material.

The best part is how the Chamber of Commerce continues to use fear to pressure Congress to enact the legislation.

“Today’s vote comes as Americans prepare to go online to do their holiday shopping in record numbers,” it says. “This legislation is needed to help protect them from online predators whose websites are disguised to look legitimate, but who do not hesitate to sell dangerous fakes that pose serious health and safety risks or to steal consumers’ identity or infect their computers with malicious viruses.”

Exactly what sort of “dangerous fakes” are people buying on the Internet for the holiday season, and in what number? It’s a ruse to scare elected officials into thinking urgent action is necessary no matter the costs. The end justifies the means.

The Chamber of Commerce is no stranger to making outlandish claims. A few years back it compared those fighting for reform of IP rights to marxists “retooling the old Marxist contention that ‘property is theft’.”

“NGOs, and UN agencies have begun to call for a full abandonment of the patent system to allow developing countries to acquire environmental technologies,” said Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue. “What started with medicines has now shifted over to a new battleground—environmental technologies. Where these radical activists go next no one knows, which is why we must remain vigilant for new international challenges and aggressively fight them.”

Yes, we certainly don’t know where these “radical activists” will go next. I mean first they were concerned with the health of the planet’s population and then of the Earth itself? Those darn Marxists.

The Chamber of Commerce claims support for the COICA is “growing,” but it’s only an “array of American companies, business organizations, and labor unions.” Most others without a vested financial Interest in seeing the Internet warped to suit their own ends find the Bill abhorrent.

Even the govt’s very own Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, found earlier this year what most already knew: piracy’s effects arena’t as simple as lost sales or profits, that counterfeiting and piracy has had a range of effects, some negative, others positive. It cited lost profits and tax revenue as negatives for businesses and govt, but that consumers benefited from increased access and lower costs.

As the legislation moves forward it’ll become vital that we all make sure our elected officials hear our objections.

Stay tuned.

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