December 17, 2011

Wyden, Moran, Cantwell Introduce IP Protection Bill that Will Not Break the Net

Washington, D.C. – As the House Judiciary Committee considers a bill that sacrifices innovation and an open and secure Internet,  U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and a bipartisan coalition of Senators including Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced legislation to use import trade laws to protect intellectual property without catastrophic effects to the Internet.

The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) will build on the existing legal framework for resolving trade infractions of tangible goods to enforce copyright and trademark infringement of digital goods such as music, movies and other intellectual property. Through the International Trade Commission, violations of digital trade can be investigated and websites found to be “willfully” and “primarily” infringing on copyright material can be shut down. The ITC will create a transparent and adversarial process where all parties would receive due process and IP rules can be consistently applied. Neither the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House nor the Protect IP Act in the Senate allow for similar due process.

“The OPEN act meets the same publicly-stated goals as SOPA or Protect IP without causing massive damage to the Internet,” Wyden said. “I’ve long said that IP infringement is a problem that needs to be addressed, but these other bills tread deeply into online censorship and blacklisting in order to protect intellectual property. There is a better way. The OPEN act expands the ability of the ITC to investigate IP infringement -- providing a forum for due process without messing with the inner workings of the Internet. The same goals are met, without the collateral damage SOPA and Protect IP will leave in their wake.”

“The internet continues to be a driving force for innovation and economic growth in our country. Any legislation affecting the internet must be carefully considered – we cannot afford unintended consequences,” Sen. Moran said. “The proposals currently under consideration by Congress raise serious Constitutional and security concerns and include provisions that effectively chill investment in innovation. Unlike Protect IP and SOPA, the OPEN Act provides a clear and consistent system of due process and does not compromise the secure operation of the internet through filtering. The OPEN Act also utilizes the expertise of the ITC to make certain monetary resources to rogue foreign websites are shut down upon violations of intellectual property rights. Whether you are a high-tech entrepreneur, a small business owner, or simply an American with a good idea, an open web facilitates innovation as an open marketplace for goods and services.”

“The Internet allows entrepreneurs in America and around the world to create ground-breaking companies and fuel economic growth,” said Cantwell. “That’s why we’re leading a bipartisan effort to pass the OPEN Act. The OPEN Act addresses the same challenges as the PROTECT Act, while protecting freedom of speech, innovation and security on the Internet. This new bill will crack down on online counterfeiting and copyright violations in a way that is consistent with existing law for illegal imports that violate intellectual property rights.”

The OPEN Act embraces remedies against true foreign, “rogue” sites that are the most effective: shutting off the money.  The OPEN Act does not include controversial provisions that empower rightsholders and the government to upset the architecture of the Internet, upon which cybersecurity infrastructure resides, or to impose a censorship regime.

For more information on the OPEN Act visit Senator Wyden’s website or