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.

The Potential Cost of PROTECT IP - Our Take

by Cybele Daley 08/22/2011 08:59 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Here’s the thing to know about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)’s cost estimate for implementing the PROTECT IP Act: it’s entirely possible that it won’t cost anything extra at all.
 
The bill doesn’t call for any spending in itself; you will find no dollar signs in PROTECT IP.  CBO’s statements that the bill “would not affect direct spending or revenues” and “would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments” reflect that same fact.  The bill does not direct the government to spend money, which is enormously important.
 
The Justice Department has seen a significant increase in its resources related to fighting copyright infringement and intellectual property theft in recent years.  The PRO-IP Act of 2008 authorized and Congress subsequently provided funding for an additional 51 FBI agents dedicated to enforcement of intellectual property laws.  The new PROTECT IP Act would give these agents and their colleagues new authority to tackle the threat of rogue sites, and knowing what we do about the FBI, it’s extremely unlikely that they would wait to start going after rogue sites until additional money came in the door.  
 
Of course, to echo what the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy said last week, we would welcome it if Congress chooses to devote even more resources to the fight against content theft and counterfeiting – especially since fewer stolen movies, TV shows, and other content will mean not only more jobs and economic output, but more tax revenues, too. 

Even if prosecutors were successfully able to keep just a handful of the highest-traffic sites that steal films and TV out of the U.S. marketplace each year, it would make a huge difference.  In that sense, any money we spend on PROTECT IP is likely to produce a healthy return on investment for taxpayers – which, in the end, is the best outcome of all.

When It Comes to Fighting Rogue Sites, We All Need to Stand Together

by Cybele Daley 08/19/2011 10:16 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Larry Downes’s “Five essential changes to Protect IP Act” post for CNET this week is mistitled.  Rather than strengthen this crucial legislation, which enlists a wide range of players in the Internet ecosystem to help shut down foreign websites that traffic in stolen intellectual property, Mr. Downes’s proposals would gut it. 

It’s disappointing that some in the tech community seem to be suggesting that the only way they will support legislation combating rogue sites is if that legislation doesn’t require the tech community to do anything.  But that approach is both ineffective and irresponsible.  What gives the PROTECT IP Act its force is the same thing that bothers its opponents: its recognition that when it comes to stopping content theft, we are all in this together, and we all need to work together for those efforts to succeed. 

That means it’s not enough, as Downes suggests, to prevent rogue websites from accessing the U.S. financial infrastructure they use to profit from stolen content, such as payment processing and advertising networks.  We also need to keep those sites – which are actively involved, every day, in the wholesale theft of American-made intellectual property – from using U.S.-based technological infrastructure to infiltrate the legitimate marketplace for content and consumer goods.  Legislation that doesn’t get at both pieces of that puzzle, at least in some way, will be markedly less effective.

Downes claims new legislation on rogue sites isn’t necessary because “existing enforcement mechanisms, such as the ‘notice and takedown’ provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, have made great strides in controlling unlicensed distribution.”  It’s true that the DMCA is a critically important and widely used tool, but it works only when the website hosting infringing content is willing to comply.  Notorious rogue site The Pirate Bay proudly states that “0 torrents has been removed, and 0 torrents will ever be removed” [sic].  

Trust us – if the people and organizations who create content and other intellectual property could stop all online theft alone, we’d have done it long ago.  But we can’t.  We need help.  To this end, we’re pleased that it looks as though there will soon be a version of PROTECT IP introduced in the House.  Kudos to Chairman Goodlatte for making clear that this bill will include “new legal tools” for both law enforcement and copyright-holders to protect their intellectual property against infringement. 

The way we see it, if we protect the jobs, wages, public revenues, and other economic growth that results when we safeguard intellectual property, we all benefit.

National District Attorneys Association Supports PROTECT IP Act

by Cybele Daley 08/04/2011 09:56 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

America’s law enforcement community continues to come out in force behind legislation to combat the threat to U.S. jobs and the health, safety and security of Americans posed by foreign “rogue” websites.  Yesterday, the National District Attorneys Association, the oldest and largest organization representing over 39,000 of America’s state and local prosecutors, sent a letter to the United State Senate urging them to address the counterfeiting and theft of U.S. products occurring on rogue sites by taking up and passing the PROTECT IP Act.  It sent a similar letter to the House.

“As the world’s oldest and largest professional organization representing criminal prosecutors, we appreciate the need for strong federal legislation to stop these rogue sites and protect American jobs,” NDAA wrote.

Local prosecutors are well-positioned to see the impact of intellectual property theft in their communities, whether it’s lost jobs or shuttered small businesses.  NDAA’s support for this legislation underscores its commitment to combat intellectual property theft and the other criminal enterprises it feeds.

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