- From: <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 1:12 PM
- Subject: Re: PIPA and SOPA
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dear Mr. ----:
- I appreciate hearing from you about protecting against intellectual property theft online. As we consider this issue, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind.
- The federal copyright law originates from the Copyright and Patent Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes Congress to "promote the Progress of Science and Useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Our modern copyright law protects original works by allocating certain rights to their creators for a specific amount of time. As our use of the Internet has continued to grow, the number of websites we use has grown exponentially. In recent years concerns have been raised about websites pirating original content or deceiving users about its contents' origins, and whether our copyright laws can still adequately protect creators in the way they originally intended.
- American businesses lose billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs to online piracy and sales of counterfeit goods over the Internet. In many cases, websites that offer illegal counterfeit products cannot be shut down under U.S. law because they are owned and operated by foreign entities, or their domain names are registered outside the U.S. To address this problem, on May 12, 2011, Senator Leahy (D-VT) introduced the "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011," S. 968. I am a co-sponsor of this bill, which is known as the PROTECT IP Act. Our bill would authorize the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a civil action in court against foreign based websites selling products that infringe on the rights of copyright holders. If the court finds that a website is dedicated to infringing activities and harms U.S. consumers and intellectual property owners, the Attorney General would have the authority to serve the court order on third parties. Those third parties, Internet service providers, payment processors, online advertising networks, and search engines, would be required to stop doing business with and prevent access to that website. The bill includes safeguards, including the ability of website operators to petition the court to reconsider its order.
- After a similar version of this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, in the 111th Congress, concerns were raised about Internet freedom. The PROTECT IP Act contains changes to address these concerns, including a narrower definition of an Internet site "dedicated to infringing activities." In addition, the PROTECT IP Act now targets only foreign based websites that we cannot otherwise prevent from illegally offering copyrighted content and goods in the United States. On May 26, 2011, the Judiciary Committee approved S. 968 by a voice vote.
- On October 26, 2011, Representative Lamar Smith [R-TX-21] introduced H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act," in the House of Representatives. Also known as SOPA, this bill is the House version of Senator Leahy's PROTECT IP Act. SOPA has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
- As we consider the PROTECT IP Act in the full Senate, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind. Again, thank you for contacting me.
- Herb Kohl
- United States Senator
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PIPA: Herb Kohl letter to constituent on PROTECT-IP
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