Following the Money: A Better Way Forward on the Protect IP Act
28 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 18, 2011
The Internet addressing and filtering provisions of the proposed PROTECT IP Act should not become law. They cannot promise efficacy, and they threaten significant collateral harm.
However, the bill offers potentially useful new tools to reduce the revenue of sites dedicated to selling, or profiting from, infringing media or counterfeit goods. These financial provisions have earned much less controversy than the Internet addressing and filtering provisions.
One way to address many of the problems with the PROTECT IP Act would be to strip the Internet blocking provisions out of the bill, and pass a surgically focused law that will confer potentially important new powers on law enforcement (and possibly on private rightholders) to dry up revenue sources for “rogue” web sites. Such a revised bill would avoid a host of other harms: it would preserve the future value of the .com domain names in which American businesses have already invested. It would protect America’s role as a global leader and de facto standard setter in Internet governance, and the economic advantages that come with that role. It would avoid the significant First Amendment problems that make the present draft of the PROTECT IP Act — and the current domain name seizures under color of existing law — vulnerable to constitutional challenges. And last, it would avoid chilling future innovations in computing technology, online media, and broadband network design.
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