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US Senate panel passes bill against piracy websites


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* Bill would give U.S. new power against foreign websites

* Critics have called bill "Internet censorship"

* U.S.-China meeting on Thursday on IPR concerns

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - U.S. agencies and officials would get new powers to go after foreign websites that sell counterfeit goods and pirated music, movies and books under a bill passed on Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill, which supporters hope will set the stage for action next year, targets "rogue websites" in countries such as China that are outside the reach of U.S. law.

The measure, approved by the Senate panel in a 19-0 vote, has the backing of companies including Disney (DIS.N), Nike (NKE.N), Merck (MRK.N) and Time Warner (TWX.N) and groups such as the Screen Actors Guild, the Motion Picture Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Critics like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, have attacked it as "Internet censorship" that could harm the credibility of the United States as a steward of the global domain name system.

The panel approved the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act" with little time left this year for it to be passed by Congress and signed into law. Lawmakers are out next week for the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and are expected to work only a few weeks in December.

A new Congress will be seated in January.

The bill allows the Justice Department to seek a court order against the domain name of websites offering illegal music or movie downloads or ones that sell counterfeit goods ranging from fake tennis shoes to pharmaceutical products.

Once the Justice Department has the order, it could shut down the site by requiring the U.S. registrar to suspend the domain name.

If the registry is located outside the United States, the U.S. Attorney General could go after the website by requiring U.S.-based Internet service providers, payment processors and advertising networks to stop doing business with it.

Committee aides said they worked with companies like MasterCard (MA.N), PayPal (PAPXX.O) and AT&T (T.N) to develop the legislation.

The bill was modified to address some concerns that critics raised. One provision was struck out that would have allowed the Justice Department to publish a "blacklist" of domain names that provide access to websites touting counterfeit or pirated goods, even if it did not seek a court order against them.


Huh... Who do we (The U.S.) think we are? This is all bad.

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The great firewall of the USA. Yet enforced over the world. How about they quit meddling in other countries their stuff.

I don't get it, generally US people are quite nice yet their country is totally bonkers.

Edited by quosego
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I don't get it, generally US people are quite nice yet their country is totally bonkers.

That about sums up the US. Politicians don't seem to comprehend that we don't own the internet, so they get swayed by groups like the MPAA, RIAA, et al. into restricting things. Hurray for net neutrality! :bomb:

Edited by Hyperlisk
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Well, I understand what the U.S. government is trying to do, and someone has to do it,

so it might as well be U.S. Counterfeit, illegal, piracy, stolen goods etc. are bad for business

and break numerous laws in the process. The Internet is but a tool to subterfuge this

illegal activity. Whether you all like it or not, the internet does not give anyone the

right (IMHO) to do whatever they like whenever they want to do it. Period.

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Laws of the US do not apply to me, I'd appreciate it if the US doesn't try to enforce them upon me. The US is not the world police. One cannot wonder when looking at the country that even if it was, if it would be a good choice.

And before anyone has to do it, make sure it's a good decision. The US do not have a good reputation when it comes to that.

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