Last month, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced U.S. Senate Bill S. 3804, also known as the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act.” While the bill has a bipartisan roster of co-sponsors and is supported by many in the entertainment industry as a major step in combating online piracy, in our view and in that of many others its passage would seriously threaten Internet freedom at home and abroad.
The bill had been on a fast track for a few weeks but has now been delayed until after the November elections. We consider that a small victory for free speech and fair use online.
The Leahy bill would give the Justice Department new powers to seek a U.S. District Court injunction against any Internet domain name that it regards as “dedicated to infringing activities.” If the injunction is granted, it would compel the registrar of the domain name to suspend operation of, and lock, the domain name. Similar actions could be taken against foreign websites.
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