The US Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a controversial new bill designed to curb copyright-infringing websites.
The PROTECT IP Act (”PIPA”) would give the authorities the power to seize the domains of allegedly infringing sites, order search engines to censor their listings and force ISPs to block the offending websites, all with just a preliminary court order. Credit card companies and advertising agencies could also be prohibited from dealing with the offending sites.
These powers will not be limited to law enforcement: if the bill becomes law, it will grant rightsholders a “private right of action” to go after alleged infringers without waiting for government intervention.
The US Chamber of Commerce were delighted, as were other major rightsholders such as the MPAA:
Rogue sites and their operators contribute nothing to the US economy. They do not innovate, they do not pay taxes, they do not follow safety standards, and they do not follow the law. Today’s vote serves as a wakeup call to those who illicitly profit at the expense of American businesses and consumers—the US will not tolerate your careless, reckless, malicious behavior. — statement by the US Chamber of Commerce
The bill is not guaranteed an easy ride through the Senate, however. Senator Ron Wyden, who last year placed a hold on the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), has vowed to do everything in his power to block the new bill.