May 12, 2011

Wyden, Lofgren Statements on the Insufficient Responses Received from Agency on Internet Seizures

Washington, D.C. – After receiving insufficient responses from the Obama Administration regarding the seizing of Internet domain names believed to be housing copyright infringing content without a court order – a massive shift in the way the U.S. had combated digital copyright infringement in the past – U.S Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) released the following statements:

Senator Wyden: “It is hard to imagine that the administration can effectively deter online copyright infringement when they refuse to answer basic questions regarding what they believe constitutes infringement.  While the departments finally responded to questions that I sent them more than three months ago, the responses from ICE and DOJ reveal a single-minded determination to stamp out online infringement and demonstrate little if any understanding of the Internet’s value and function.

“Particularly troubling is their refusal to explain how linking is different than free speech.  Given that hyperlinks in many ways form the foundation of the Internet, efforts to go after one site for linking to another site – which the Administration is currently doing and the Protect IP Act would expand on – threaten to do much more than protect IP.  There are many actions that we can all agree the Administration can and should be taking to crack down on counterfeiting of U.S. goods and the illegal sale of U.S. IP products that don’t involve advancing novel and unsupportable theories like holding sites liable for linking.”

Click here for Senator Wyden’s letter to ICE and DOJ and their responses here and here.

Rep. Lofgren: “ICE’s response fails to address legitimate concerns about “Operation In Our Sites.” Domain seizures without due process are a form of censorship. In this instance, our government has seized domains with nothing more than the rubber stamp of a magistrate, without any prior notice or adversarial process, leaving the authors of these sites with the burden of proving their innocence. While this might be enough for the seizure of stolen cars or knock-off handbags, it is not enough for web sites and speech on the Internet. It is disturbing that this administration is treating them the same.”

Click here for Rep. Lofgren’s letter to ICE and their response.