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New U.S. Copyright Act Toughest Yet, Gives Corporations Governmental Powers

Posted by: , 16:22 AEST, Thu May 12, 2011
Tags: Copyright

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Newly proposed U.S. copyright laws could see search engine results filtered, websites blocked by ISPs, and corporations given the same powers as the government

The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, more widely known as the PROTECT IP Act, promises to give government agencies and corporations sweeping powers to ban, block and seize any website deemed to be engaged in copyright infringement.

As an extension that formalizes recent domain name seizures by The Department of Homeland Securities and ICE, the bill aims to extend these powers to cover domains names that are not even hosted in the U.S.

The DoJ will then be able to, using tax payer funds, file civil actions on behalf of copyright holders (most of whom are billion dollar multi-national corporations), in order to seek a preliminary order against the websites. Once the order is granted, the domain name can be seized, or if the domain name is not owned by an U.S. entity, then the Attorney General has the power to order search engines to remove all references to the website, order ISPs to block said website, and even order financial service providers to cease any relationship with the offending website, all without the right to appeal or due process by the website owner.

Corporations themselves also get some of the same new powers to act without having to go through the full legal process. Copyright holders can request financial service providers to cut support for the websites that they don't like, but they cannot yet force ISPs and search engines to act.

Any infringing site that "endangers the public health" can fall prey to this proposed copyright act, a definition that critics say is far too vague. The act will be introduced in the coming weeks in the U.S. Congress, and it appears that it is already widely supported on both sides of politics, thus ensuring a relatively smooth passage unless opposition arises.

Here's an official summary of the PROTECT IP act:

Protect Ip Summary


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