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Senator Dick Durbin's response to anti-PROTECT IP petition

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  1. Dear Mr. ******:
  2.  
  3. Thank you for contacting me to express your concern about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act of 2011, S. 968. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
  4.  
  5. The bipartisan PROTECT IP Act, which was based on last year's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which passed unanimously in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would authorize the Department of Justice to pursue court orders to take action against websites that are dedicated to selling pirated and counterfeit goods.
  6.  
  7. It is important to note that this legislation seeks to address a serious problem without inappropriately restricting Internet freedom. The Justice Department currently lacks tools to effectively enforce anti-piracy and counterfeiting laws against websites that are dedicated to distributing material in violation of these laws.
  8.  
  9. This legislation seeks to address this problem by enabling the Justice Department to target these websites through court orders, while also providing the websites with the opportunity to petition a court to lift an order. The bill is narrowly tailored so as not to include legitimate websites and it includes important procedural protections to prevent misuse of this authority. For a court order to be issued, the Justice Department must show that the website in question is directed at customers in the United States and that it harms holders of U.S. intellectual property. In addition, the Department is required to promptly serve notice of the action after the filing.
  10.  
  11. S. 968 provides a narrower definition of a website "dedicated to infringing activities" than the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. In addition, while the PROTECT IP Act would authorize the Attorney General and rights holders to bring actions against online infringers operating a rogue website or domain, the remedies are limited to blocking financial gains of the site but not blocking access. Also, this bill ensures that third-parties (e.g. Internet service providers, payment processors, advertising networks) are not overly burdened to comply with an order beyond what is feasible and reasonable.
  12.  
  13. In May 2011, this bill was approved unanimously by a voice vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and was reported to the Senate floor for further consideration.
  14.  
  15. Effective enforcement of intellectual property laws is critical to the encouragement of innovation and the creation of jobs. In recent years, we have seen a proliferation of Internet websites that are devoted to the unauthorized distribution and sale of pirated and counterfeit goods. These websites deprive innovators and businesses of revenue and result in the loss of American jobs. In addition, these websites present a public health concern when they sell counterfeit, adulterated, or misbranded pharmaceutical products.
  16.  
  17. I will keep your views in mind as the Senate considers this issue in the coming months.
  18.  
  19. Sincerely,
  20. Richard J. Durbin
  21. United States Senator
  22.  
  23. RJD/vy
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