Public Safety Community Overwhelmingly Supports Rogue Sites Legislation

by Cybele Daley 10/31/2011 14:19 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 325,000 members has been joined by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the largest organization representing fire fighters, in support of legislation to combat foreign based rogue websites.  IAFF and the FOP along with the Major Cities Chiefs, Major County Sheriffs, National Troopers Association, National Association of Attorneys General, National District Attorneys, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and American Society of Industrial Security are among the many organizations joining in this fight.  We applaud this overwhelming support from law enforcement – their collective voices underscore the gravity of this crime and its impact to public safety.

National President for the FOP, Chuck Canterbury, exclaimed, “The preparedness and safety of our members depend on sound, reliable equipment.  Counterfeit batteries, gloves, brake pads, and other equipment put us and the public at risk.  Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, tooth paste, and footwear put our seniors and our children at risk.  Organized gangs use these profits from counterfeit DVDs to fund other criminal enterprises and fuel violent crime in our communities here at home.”

Harold A. Schaitberger, General President stated “We know what shared responsibility is. We live it every day. Every day, our members rely on each other as they confront dangerous situations, and the country depends on our members to promote public safety. This same sense of shared responsibility is essential if we are to effectively disrupt the rogue sites’ business model. Law enforcement needs the authority to enlist the help of other players in the Internet ecosystem to cut these sites off from the American marketplace. Legislation targeting these foreign rogue websites will encourage Internet users to find legitimate sources for goods and content, will ensure that counterfeiters and pirates can no longer profit from this clearly illegal activity, and will stem the flow of dangerous counterfeit goods into the supply chains on which our members depend.

According to the President of the Major Cities Chiefs, Police Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia, Charles H. Ramsey “law enforcement in the United States has few options available to counteract the threat of foreign intellectual property theft and counterfeiting. We therefore encourage you to introduce legislation to help address this growing problem.”

Executive Director for the National Troopers Coalition, Dennis Hallion, explained “law enforcement needs the authority to enlist assistance from providers such as infrastructure providers including ISP’s and financial service providers such as payment processors, to protect US commerce.”

President of the Major County Sheriffs, Sheriff Doug Gillespie explained, “law enforcement’s ability to crack down on counterfeiters and their deception of the general public must be strengthened.  Counterfeiters and other criminals are increasingly turning to the Internet to conduct and enhance their illegal activities.”

“Legislation is needed to disrupt the counterfeiting and pirate business model by cutting those sites off from the American marketplace,” according to our Nation’s attorneys general.  “We cannot let this threat go unanswered,” said Scott Burns, Executive Director for the National District Attorneys Association.

We couldn’t agree more.  Our attorneys general, district attorneys, chiefs, sheriffs, rank and file cops on the streets, campus law enforcement administrators, and private sector security managers, are charged with protecting the public -- disrupting and dismantling crime.  They recognize that foreign based rogue websites threaten public safety.  They recognize the other crimes these thieves feed.  We urge Congress to listen to our boots on the ground in our states and cities and pass rogue sites legislation.

Why Don't They Want to Talk About Jobs?

by Paul Hortenstine 10/31/2011 14:07 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today, the Net Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association, and Computer and Communications Industry Association sent a letter to the House of Representatives opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261).  These groups are so focused on defeating this bill that their letter avoids mentioning an important impact of this bill: preserving the livelihoods of millions of American workers.

There is broad agreement about the top issue facing our country: turning our economy around by keeping and creating good-paying jobs.  Members of both political parties will never agree on every measure that will help our economy but they do concur that there needs to be action now.  So it may come as a surprise that there is a bill that will preserve jobs and has bipartisan support.   The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (S.968) in the Senate are supported by both Democrats and Republicans.  They will help protect the livelihoods of the 2.2 million American workers from all 50 states, from accountants to truck drivers to florists to make-up artists whose jobs depend on the film and television industry.

So the next time these groups bring up their opposition to the bill, they might want to discuss jobs unless they want to avoid the most pressing issue of today altogether.

Hello, My Name Is...

by Howard Gantman 10/28/2011 15:27 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

It’s been only two days since the bipartisan House Judiciary committee leadership introduced  a  highly anticipated  bill to crack down on foreign rogue websites that steal and profit from counterfeit goods and stolen creative content like books and movies and music.  Yet those who seem to side with the rights of these rogue websites over the rights of American workers and businesses, are taking every step possible to confuse the public, falsely characterize its provisions and mislabel the bill.

For a clear and concise explanation of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Chairman Lamar Smith has put out a fact sheet that summarizes the bill and will clarify any uncertainty about what it does.

And for those who want to get their facts right about its name:  It’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act.

So let’s stop playing games.  More than 2.2 million hard-working, middle-class people in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs.  They work behind the scenes in production, and in small businesses like equipment rental, transportation, construction and food service.  Millions more people work in theaters, video stores, retail, restaurants and other businesses that depend on entertainment.  For all of these workers and their families, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits.

We thank the bill’s initial co-sponsors, Representatives Lamar Smith, Howard Berman, Marsha Blackburn, Mary Bono Mack, Steve Chabot, John Conyers, Ted Deutch, Elton Gallegly, Tim Griffin, Bob Goodlatte, Dennis Ross, Adam Schiff, and Terry Lee for introducing this bill and recognizing the importance of protecting American workers and businesses.

Another Win for the Creative Sector - Illegal Website Newzbin2 will be Blocked by UK’s Largest ISP

by Chris Marcich 10/26/2011 16:52 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

In a landmark ruling, BT, Britain’s largest internet service provider, has been ordered by the High Court in London to block access to the illegal website Newzbin2 within 14 days.  This is the first time a website has been blocked by an ISP in the UK under copyright law and sets an important legal precedent going forward.

Newzbin2 features stolen content on their website, providing unlawful copies of film, television, games, music, and other creative material.

In March 2010, Newsbin 2’s predecessor Newzbin was found to be infringing copyright and was ordered by the High Court to filter out the illegal content. The site did not comply with the order and re-launched itself as “Newzbin2”. The new site is based outside of the UK and its owners are operating anonymously.

After Newzbin refused to filter infringing content, the MPA had no option but to ask Britain’s largest ISP to block the site. The High Court ordered BT to block the site in July and the details on the implementation of that blocking order were released today.

Today’s news has been widely welcomed across the UK’s creative industries.  Newzbin has profited to the tune of over £1 million per year from wholesale content theft and this injunction will go a long way in stopping their unlawful profit stream.

Lord Puttnam CBE, President of the Film Distributors' Association, had the following to say: “This is a very significant day for the UK’s creative industries.  The law is clear. Industrial online piracy is illegal and can be stopped.”  

Today’s ruling was also welcomed by BT.  A spokesman for the telecom giant called the ruling "helpful” because of the “clarity that it brings." The block will also apply to any variations of the Newzbin site to prevent operators of Newzbin from circumventing the law.

In the future, content creators and distributors should be able to secure greater cooperation from ISPs to address sites that are focused on wholesale copyright theft.

This precedent is essential because the growth of the legal download market is thwarted by sites such as Newzbin 2, which offers stolen content and destroy jobs for honest citizens.   

House of Representatives Stands Up for Creative Community Jobs with New Rogue Sites Bill

by Alex Swartsel 10/26/2011 15:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today marks a major step forward in the fight against rogue websites with introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House of Representatives.  Sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Howard Berman (D-CA), this counterpart to the Senate’s PROTECT IP bill asks all member of the Internet ecosystem to do their part to prevent online content theft, preventing “rogue” websites from exploiting U.S. registrars, registries, Internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services to sustain their illicit online businesses.
We joined with the Independent Film & Television Alliance® (IFTA®), the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc. in applauding the House for standing up for creative community jobs.  Here’s what our Michael O’Leary said about the bill:

“Over 2 million Americans across all 50 states earn a living and support their families in jobs connected to the making of motion pictures and television shows.  They deserve better than to see their work stolen out from under them by criminals out to make a profit.  This legislation hits rogue sites where it hurts: their access to American consumers and to the financial services they use to make money.  We want to thank Chairman Smith, Chairman Goodlatte and the other co-sponsors for standing up for good American jobs.”

Read the full press release here.

Addressing Google's Concerns

by TJ Ducklo 10/25/2011 14:58 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

For a compelling response to the comments made by Google Director of Public Policy Bob Boorstin today on the PROTECT IP act, please see the May 24th analysis written by Cahill Gordon & Reindel intellectual property expert Floyd Abrams, particularly the following passage where he directly addresses Mr. Boorstin’s concerns:

"I would like to directly acknowledge that potential action by Congress in this area has drawn objections from groups and individuals with deeply held beliefs about civil liberties, human rights, and a free Internet."

"Among a range of objections, two core critiques stand out. First, there is a recurring argument that the United States would be less credible in its criticism of nations that egregiously violate the civil liberties of their citizens if Congress cracks down on rogue websites. Second, there is the vaguer notion that stealing is somehow less offensive when carried out online."

"I disagree. Copyright violations are not protected by the First Amendment. Entities “dedicated to infringing activities” are not engaging in speech that any civilized, let alone freedom-oriented nations protects.  That these infringing activities occur on the Internet makes them not less, but more harmful. The notion that by combating such acts through legislation, the United States would compromise its role as the world leader in advancing a free and universal Internet seems to me insupportable. As a matter of both constitutional law and public policy, the United States must remain committed to defending both the right to speak and the ability to protect one’s intellectual creations. This legislation does not impair or overcome the constitutional right to engage in speech; it protects creators of speech, as Congress has since this Nation was founded, by combating its theft." 

Author Robert Levine: Copyright Infringement Destroying Jobs

by Alec Jacobs 10/24/2011 15:05 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

According to Robert Levine, author of the new book Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, the massive amount of copyright infringement on the Internet is “jeopardizing our creative content, hurting our economy, [and] destroying jobs.”

In this video, Levine takes a trip to New York City, where he lived in the 90s. One of his favorite neighborhoods in the city was St. Mark’s Place, where he’d buy music on vinyl and CD. “I think at any given time, there’ve been four or five record stores on this block alone,” he remembers. “Less than 15 years later, all that’s gone.”

And the reason: copyright infringement online. “The same forces that really just decimated the music business are now starting to affect these other businesses. Film, TV, books and newspapers. And you’re gonna see the same thing happen.”

The issue, Levine says, really comes down to jobs: “You’ve got to look at the whole picture, everybody who works at those companies is suffering, and fewer people are working there than were working there before. That’s not good at all. Fewer films get made, the films that get made have smaller budgets, and that doesn’t only affect actors who are making millions of dollars. It affects the people that do hair and makeup, the set designers, the crews.

“Who’s employing people and who’s generating creativity? Because creativity without the Internet is still a business. The Internet without creative content is not much of a business at all.”

Another Voice in Support of Rogue Sites Legislation

by TJ Ducklo and Alex Swartsel 10/13/2011 15:24 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Tom Giovanetti of the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that taking action against rogue websites will be crucial to promoting innovation and creativity worldwide. Giovanetti’s findings were released yesterday in an IPI position paper and make several fundamental arguments in support of targeting such sites.

The Texas-based think tank’s approach is measured and well organized, fleshing out the underlying principles that make enacting the PROTECT IP Act and its soon-to-be-introduced House companion a major step forward for the over 2 million men and women in America’s creative community. Here are a few highlights from Giovanetti’s piece:

PROTECT IP Does Not Permit the Government to Arbitrarily Shut Down Websites Without Due Process. One “concern is that somehow powers granted through the Protect IP Act would be extended such that the federal government would shut down websites because of political speech or content that the federal government found objectionable. … It’s important to remember that the federal government already has the legal tools to shut down websites hosted within the United States that have been proven to exist for the purpose of distributing illegal content. These legal tools are narrowly tailored to focus on websites solely or primarily existing to distribute pirated or counterfeit goods, and preserve the due process protections afforded American citizens. We are not aware of any instance where websites have been shut down by federal action because of political speech under the existing legal framework.”

“Not Unreasonable to Expect [Intermediaries] Who Facilitate Access to and Commerce with [Rogue] Sites to Play a Role in Limiting their Reach.” “Content owners and rights holders must work with rather than against ISPs, payment processors, advertising networks, and search providers to ensure that Internet users are not victimized by those who would take online advantage of them, including purveyors of pirated and counterfeit goods.  But specifically, in the case of websites demonstrated to exist for the purpose of profiting from the distribution of illegal content, it is also not unreasonable to expect those who facilitate access to and commerce with these sites to play a role in limiting their reach.”

PROTECT IP Promises to Accomplish Goals “While Not Burdening Third Parties with Unnecessarily Liability and Compliance Costs.” “Because the final text of the legislation is not yet available, or indeed has yet to be introduced in the House, we can only say that we think the Protect IP Act is on its way to becoming an agreement that accomplishes the important goals outlined earlier while not burdening third parties with unnecessary liability and compliance costs, and we urge all stakeholders to work toward that end.”

The businesses, labor unions, trade associations and others backing this bill come from across the country, across industries, and across the political spectrum. It’s time to enact rogue sites legislation to stand up for American creativity. 

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