Say Hello To The “PROTECT IP” Act

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

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Last week Senator Leahy introduced his revision to the controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The bill now stands in its new form, the PROTECT IP Act, short for “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property.” According to, “under the new proposal, search engines, internet providers, credit card companies, and ad networks would all have cut off access to foreign “rogue sites”– and such court orders would not be limited to the government. Private rightsholders could go to court and target foreign domains, too.”

What we are most particularly interested in is the effect on search engines, such as our previous discussions surrounding Google AdWords. The PROTECT IP Act  “responds to concerns raised that search engines are part of the ecosystem that directs Internet user traffic and therefore should be part of the solution.” We agree, Google must help in being part of the solution.

Some key points of the PROTECT IP Act via Wired:

  • The bill is an attempt to deal with foreign sites which can be difficult for US enforcement to reach.
  • It does provide a more limited definition of sites “dedicated to infringing activities.”
  • Ad networks and payment processors will be protected if they “voluntarily cease doing business with infringing websites, outside of any court ordered action.”
  • Copyright and trademark holders are allowed to seek court orders directly, though these orders would only apply to payment processors and advertising networks (not to ISPs or search engines).
  • A search engine can simply cut off advertising for that reason and be immunized under the law.
  • Encourages everyone—domain name registries, search engines, payment processors, and ad networks—to cut off access to infringing sites that “endanger the public health.” That is, online pharmacies (which are often hotbeds of counterfeiting).

What are your thoughts on the new bill? Do you think it will further the government’s attempts to take down foreign rouge websites selling counterfeits?


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