Dear Mr. Planchart:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about legislation to combat online infringement and digital theft.
Last Congress, the Senate considered, but did not pass, legislation entitled the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The aim of this legislation was to assist the Department of Justice in tracking and shutting down “rogue websites.” These sites provide unauthorized downloads, streaming, or direct sale of copyrighted material. Similar legislation, entitled the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act, has been introduced in the Senate. The PROTECT IP Act narrows the definition of “rogue website” in an effort to target only the most egregious purveyors of digital theft and counterfeit crime.
In an age of advancing technology, it is critical we have laws that protect internet users from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent marketplace practices. Too many consumers today purchase goods over the internet that may pose a significant threat to their health and wellbeing. For example, a consumer may unknowingly purchase counterfeit prescription drugs online that contain incorrect amounts of active ingredients, and thus pose a serious risk to ill individuals.
Additionally, illegal file sharing and unauthorized copying of digital material prevents musicians, producers, filmmakers, software designers, and many others from reaping the fruits of their labor. Such activity has the potential to stifle artistic creativity and compromise electronic innovation. Ultimately, intellectual property theft costs our economy billions of dollars and can result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.
However, I have also heard from individuals with concerns about the scope of this legislation, as well as its First Amendment implications. I take these concerns seriously. Should this legislation come before the full Senate for a vote, I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
United States Senator