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A Path Forward for Online Piracy Legislation?

February 2, 2012

Recent momentum behind a pair of intellectual property protection bills, S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), came to a sudden halt when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indefinitely postponed a procedural vote on PIPA scheduled for January 24th and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) similarly postponed continuing his committee's markup of SOPA. At the same time, many lawmakers withdrew their support for the bills as currently drafted.

Both bills sought to protect Americans' intellectual property by curbing counterfeiting and the illegal sale of creative content, consumer goods and medication by foreign websites. However, Opponents, including online encyclopedia Wikipedia which blocked access to its site as a sign of protest, raised concerns that the processes and criteria set forth to identify and penalize infringers would jeopardize internet access, free speech and innovation.  

While there is general agreement on the need for increased protection of intellectual property, specifically from foreign entities, there is still much to be determined on the appropriate means and manner to do so. SOPA and PIPA granted oversight and police authority to the United States Department of Justice, but an alternative bill, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate (S. 2029) and Representative Darrell Issa in the House (H.R. 3782), would authorize the International Trade Commission to oversee enforcement. The content industry has indicated it views the OPEN Act as too weak, but it is the likely starting point for negotiations on SOPA and PIPA.

For more information on this topic, please contact Government Policy Advisor, Mary Beth McGowan at 202-906-8631 or Eric Fingerhut at 202-906-8618.


As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. © 2012 Dykema Gossett PLLC.

As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. © 2018 Dykema Gossett PLLC.