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Senators Claim Increased Site Seizures Necessary to “Protect US Jobs”

Senators Claim Increased Site Seizures Necessary to “Protect US Jobs”

Senate Committee on the Judiciary hold a hearing entitled “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property” in which several Senators emphaszie the need for seizing sites that steal US jobs and harm consumers.

In the wake of the fourth phase of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing “Operation in Our Sites” campaign the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property” yesterday in which a number of Senators expressed their support for the controversial “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).

First proposed last 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.” It would ostensibly make it even easier for ICE to seize sites it accuses of copyright infringing activities.

During his testimony, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that he was aware of concerns by some copyright holders that “argue that the legislation did not go far enough” and by others are concerned it “may go too far.”

He continued:

While we work to address concerns, let us also be clear that the problem of online infringement is real; it is substantial; and it is a drain on our economy, which costs American jobs. Copyright piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods are reported to cost the American economy billions of dollars annually and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs. A January study found that nearly 24 percent of all Internet traffic worldwide is infringing. That is a staggering number, and the problem is growing. That is why inaction is not an option, and we must pass online infringement legislation in this Congress before rogue websites harm more businesses, and result in more lost jobs.

The problem is that all of these so-called “facts” are completely bogus, and based on little more than biased estimations spewed out by copyright holders with an incentive to always make them appear as dramatic as possible.

Last year the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, was tasked with quantifying the effects of counterfeit and pirated goods, and discovered that they weren’t as simple as lost sales or profits, that each has 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.

“While experts and literature we reviewed provided different examples of effects on the U.S. economy, most observed that despite significant efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy as a whole,” it said.

But Senator Leahy doesn’t seem to mind the fact that his data is based on guesswork at best, falsehoods at worst. He goes on to compare physical piracy with online piracy, and presses for the need to police websites even if they are owned and operated outside the US.

“We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens on the Internet and the owners operate overseas,” he adds. “The Internet needs to be free and open ” not lawless.”

Emphasizing the need for the Internet to be “free and open” and yet opening the door for any country to seize any site that is owned and operated outside its borders is an odd argument to make.

What if Pakistan also decided that the Internet should not be “lawless” and tries to impose orthodox Islamic or Shariah law? Would we sit by and allow it to seize the sites of the Danish newspapers that published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad? What about sites that encourage people to convert from Islam to Christianity?

Even Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has it all wrong. He seems to think that commercial P2P is the same as noncommercial P2P. Nearly all the file-sharing and linking sites seized by ICE so far were in no way engaged in “online sales of copyrighted content.” That’s not how file-sharing or streaming sites work. They’re not selling anything.

Worse still is the testimony given by the US Chamber of Commerce which reiterated its inane study purporting 53 billion visits to so-called “digital piracy” sites each year, and claiming the number “exposes the staggering scope” of illegal file-sharing.

If you want to talk about real “rogue” actions what about the fact that during ICE’s recent site seizure efforts nearly 84,000 websites were shut down by mistake?

Moreover, there exists a glaring lack of due process whereby the govt is seizing sites without site owners ever having a chance to defend themselves either before or after their site is seized.

Stay tuned.

[email protected]

Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus
oh well
oh well

my job at kfc is safe.

tiger97a
tiger97a

i say somebody should look into his meetings and lunches and see who has been footing the bill, or check and see if any gifts are being swapped for his view ppint. as most of them don't have a clue what they even talk about and they are being fed line for line.

Eloh
Eloh

Most of the websites shut down last week by ICE were based in China. They all sold counterfeit products, made in China. The 'real' products are also made in China. So how are we losing these jobs???

cc
cc

Lost jobs? The last time I checked, that 9% unemployment rate had nothing to do with teenagers downloading Lady Gaga albums and episodes of Family Guy, and I don't see greedy old gargoyles and pig men who feel entitled to 99% of the profits despite doing less than 1% of the work out on the streets begging for change.

powerful owner, national freeman shepherd, self-em
powerful owner, national freeman shepherd, self-em

Don't listen to them, expose them. shoot them and they will shoot right back, but they will use the public opinion to justify it. once the liars fail to sway the masses, then the people behind the curtain will no longer have a use for them. and liars will become liabilities. don't provoke them, take the future into your own hands and they will loose their followers and the leaders will be led and 'protection' measures will commence from within THEIR ranks. a malignant tumor devouring itself. other than that I completely agree.

powerless consumer, citizen civilian cattle, Carly
powerless consumer, citizen civilian cattle, Carly

Don't listen to them, shoot them. A semblance of freedom is a luxury wasted on the powerless at this stage. The spiel is the same, always has been. Say one thing. Do another. Pretend to represent. Lie. He's not even trying to act like he's doing this because he's stupid, (that semblance) the usual political shit. I like the way that Bilderberg member cunt Hillary Clinton jibed last week about protecting the internet. What a coincidence, the next week, this guy mentions those words again, in an entirely different context. I hope someone 'protects' a hole in her fucking head. But ya know what they say, you want something done right.....

votewithabullet
votewithabullet

protect US jobs? That implies that there even ARE any jobs! more like protect the interests of foreign owned corporations and disguise it as patriotism

Told you so!
Told you so!

I've been commenting and doom-preaching about the Internet-2 for the last 6 years. Somehow being right all along doesn't feel good. :-( I guess it's back to my 286 Linux-box for me. They hadn't implement their hardware control-measures back then.



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