CEA hails Issa, Wyden anti-piracy legislation
By Colin Mann

Influential US trade body the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has commended Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Ron Wyden and a group of bipartisan lawmakers for introducing The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act.

The CEA suggests this bill addresses the problem of foreign infringing web sites and is a strong alternative to the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). SOPA and PIPA face considerable opposition from Internet and technology interests with claims that their broad definitions could lead to the shut-down of legal and widely used US websites.

“We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Issa and Sen. Wyden, and their bipartisan co-sponsors. The OPEN Act is a smart, targeted approach to the very real problem of foreign ‘rogue’ websites,” said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “For too long, some in this debate have presented a false choice — either accept Draconian, harmful legislation or let pirates run amok. By contrast, the OPEN Act provides a quick, effective way to shut down pirate sites without damaging legitimate companies or enriching trial lawyers.”

The OPEN Act empowers the International Trade Commission (ITC) to issue ‘cease and desist’ orders against websites found to be dedicated to infringement. The CEA points out that the ITC has years of experience addressing the problems of infringing foreign goods. It suggests that the ITC approach offers quick and effective injunctive relief, and will not become a breeding ground for nuisance lawsuits.

“There is no reason for the content industry not to support the OPEN Act. It accomplishes their stated goals – shutting down offshore pirate websites while not impacting legitimate innovators,” Shapiro added. “We also commend the sponsors for their commitment to an open and public comment process. Inclusion of all stakeholders in the development of the bill – including everyday Internet users – will inevitably lead to more thoughtful and effective legislation.”

“We can stop pirates while maintaining an open, vibrant and thriving Internet,” Shapiro concluded. “We look forward to working with the co-sponsors and all stakeholders to see this bill become law.”

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had previously criticised the proposed new wording, claiming it goes easy on Internet piracy, with MPAA senior executive vice president for global policy and external affairs Michael O’Leary suggesting the draft legislation falls far short of what is needed.

“The bad news is that this draft legislation fails to provide an effective way to target foreign rogue websites and goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting. By changing the venue from our federal courts to the US International Trade Commission, it places copyright holders at a disadvantage and allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders. It even allows notification to some of these companies if they want to help advocate for rogue websites,” he claimed.

“The PROTECT IP Act, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch and 38 others, and the Stop Online Piracy Act, sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith, John Conyers and 28 others, offer measured, needed solutions to target online theft and counterfeiting by rogue websites. Few bills have this type of bipartisan support and the backing of businesses and labor groups. The draft legislation introduced by Congressman Issa and Senator Wyden goes far easier on the criminal enterprises operating these rogue websites than these two bills,” he concluded.