The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that seeks to rein in foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies and TV shows, a move that drew widespread support from a broad coalition of entertainment industry groups.
Called the Protect IP Act, the proposed law is strongly backed by Hollywood's chief lobbying group, the Motion Picture Assn. of America, as well as the Independent Film & Television Alliance, the National Assn. of Theatre Owners and other industry and labor organizations.
The legislation would give the Justice Department authority to seek a court order against the registrant or owner of a domain name tied to websites that sell counterfeit goods, including sites that are foreign-owned. The act also authorizes a rights holder who is a victim of copyright infringement to take court action against a domain name owner or registrant. The bill follows similar legislation introduced last year in the previous Congress and could come up for a vote of the full Senate this summer.
Hollywood's creative community praised Thursday's bipartisan vote by the Judiciary Committee. "As the unions and guilds representing more than 400,000 entertainment industry workers — including craftspeople, actors, technicians, directors, musicians, recording artists and others whose creativity is at the heart of the American entertainment industry — we believe the Protect IP Act is critical to efforts to aggressively combat the proliferation of foreign 'rogue websites' that steal U.S.-produced content and profit from it by illegally selling it to the American public," said a statement from unions representing actors, directors and musicians.
Michael O'Leary, executive vice president of government affairs for the MPAA, said: "By helping shut down rogue websites that profit from stolen films, television shows and other counterfeit goods, this legislation will protect wages and benefits for the millions of middle-class workers who bring America's creativity to life."