US senators in anti-piracy crackdown

A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced a bill that would grant the Justice Department additional powers to shutter websites offering pirated music and movies.

If passed, the legislation would authorize the DoJ to file an in rem civil action against domain names used to traffic illicit digital material.

However, the department would still be forced to obtain a preliminary court order, which would be contingent on proving the site’s “substantial and repeated role in online piracy and counterfeiting.”

The bill also requires the DoJ to publish notice of its action immediately after filing and clearly stipulates that the defendant is permitted to petition the court on his or her behalf.

Unsurprisingly, the bill has already been enthusiastically endorsed by David Hirschmann of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center.

“Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the bill’s cosponsors should be commended for introducing this important legislation to address the growing scourge of counterfeiting and piracy over the Internet,” Hirschmann trumpeted in an official statement.

“The sale of counterfeit and pirated goods online is rampant across the world, hindering our economic growth, killing our jobs and putting our consumers at risk. These sites are illegal and the Senators have taken an important step towards remedying this growing problem.” 

According to Hirschmann, America’s innovative and creative industries account for more than $5 trillion of the US GDP, drive more than half of  exports and employ over 18 million Americans. 

“Nevertheless, reports indicate that copyright piracy from motion pictures, sound recordings, business and entertainment software and video games costs the US economy $58.0 billion in total output.

“This adds up to costing 373,375 American jobs, $16.3 billion in earnings, and costs federal, state and local governments $2.6 billion in tax revenue.”