In its editorial entitled “Policing the Internet,” the Los Angeles Times claimed “problematic details” in legislation aimed at stopping foreign-based websites that steal American-made films, TV shows and other products, and in our opinion it missed an opportunity to paint the big picture.
Criminals use rogue sites to profit from content theft, sometimes luring in unsuspecting U.S. consumers who think these sites and their content and advertising are legitimate and authorized. Set builders, camera operators, makeup artists, truck drivers, theater workers, and millions more middle class Americans work hard to pay the bills, put their kids through school, and save for retirement, only to see the movies and television they make stolen from them and billions of dollars in lost wages and benefits lining the pockets of thieves overseas. That’s just wrong, and invoking technology as a justification for inaction is far from the right answer.
Cutting off the ads and payment processing that finance these sites is important, but it isn’t enough. Denying access to rogue sites by removing or disabling links – which internet service providers already do to protect against viruses and other harmful sites – will encourage honest users to find legal content elsewhere with no impact on the vast majority of Internet users. Few people would risk a slower connection or exposure to viruses on foreign servers just to get around these filters.
The PROTECT IP Act is a smart, measured solution to an enormous problem. We applaud Congress for taking action and providing leadership. We sincerely hope that, in light of rogue sites’ threat to the jobs and livelihoods of more than 134,000 film and television workers in Los Angeles, their hometown paper will reconsider.
Susan Cleary is Vice President & General Counsel, Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). Michael O’Leary is Executive Vice President, Government Affairs at MPAA.