(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today announced his original cosponsorship of the PROTECT IP (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property) Act of 2011, legislation introduced last week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to crack down on websites selling counterfeit goods and illegally streaming media content. The proposal includes a key enforcement provision championed by Blumenthal creating a private right of action that would to allow rights holders to enforce directly violations of their intellectual property rights.
Copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods on websites across the Internet reportedly cost American creators and producers billions of dollars, and results in hundreds of thousands in lost jobs. These rogue Internet sites are often outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement because they are foreign-owned and operated, or reside at domain names that are not registered through U.S.-based entities. The illegal products offered on these websites are wide-ranging, from the latest pirated movie or music hits to consumer products and unauthorized and potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.
The bipartisan PROTECT IP Act, supported by numerous businesses, creative industry associations and unions across America, would protect both consumers and jobs from the negative effects of pervasive intellectual property infringement.
“While the Internet has revolutionized the way we do business, it is imperative that our laws keep pace with online commerce to crack down on unscrupulous criminals who flagrantly violate copyright law at the expense of American consumers and businesses,” said Blumenthal. “Protecting intellectual property - and the goods and services that help keep our economy moving – continues to be a top priority of mine, and I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure law enforcement authorities have the tools and resources they need to create a fair playing field for businesses and keep consumers safe.”
Blumenthal successfully advocated including a provision in the law creating a private right of action allowing rights holders to bring actions against the owner or registrant of an Internet side, or the domain name itself, where that site is “dedicated to infringing activities.” A rights holder may initiate this action against either a domestic or foreign-registered domain name. The inclusion of a private right of action to enforce the law responds to content and brand owner concerns that law enforcement alone lacks the resources to bring a sufficient number of actions to effectively crack down on infringing Internet sites.
At a February 16 hearing entitled "Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American Intellectual Property," Blumenthal emphasized the importance of creating these private rights of action to ensure adequate enforcement of the new law, noting that “in many of our areas of enforcement, private rights of action incentivize the public enforcers to do their job better.” Noted author and accomplished former prosecutor Scott Turow also endorsed the concept, testifying that “in an era of budget deficits, it is unrealistic to expect the Government to dramatically increase enforcement efforts despite the fact … that the Justice Department is greatly interested in this problem.”
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