A group of 40 companies and business groups wrote Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Thursday to push for action on his legislation aimed at cracking down on online piracy and counterfeiting.
The coalition urged Leahy to push for Senate approval of the legislation when Congress returns in mid-November for a lame-duck session after the November midterm elections.
The legislation would give the Justice Department new authority to file a civil action against a domain name linked to a website trafficking in illegal copyrighted content or counterfeit goods. Under the bill, the company that sold the domain name registration to the website could be forced to revoke the domain name of the site if it is being used for copyright infringement or counterfeiting.
The Judiciary Committee was set to mark up the bill in late September but postponed action on the measure when the Senate recessed for the midterm elections.
"Rogue websites - many of which are hosted outside of the U.S. - have become
increasingly sophisticated in both design and operation, and often deceive consumers into believing they are legitimate," the letter said. "We believe that the tools S. 3804
would provide are essential to helping address these illegal websites and ensuring that the Internet is a safe and vibrant marketplace."
The letter was signed by such groups and companies as the Association of American Publishers, NBC Universal, the Recording Industry Association of America, Sony Music Entertainment, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Critics worry that the measure will hamper free speech, and by allowing domain names to be shut down, it could set a bad precedent that other countries might seek to immitate in order to stifle government critics.
The coalition of businesses and groups dismissed such claims, saying, "some foreign countries have engaged in political censorship long before this bill was introduced and they will continue to do so regardless of whether this legislation is enacted."