Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on Tuesday urged critics of his bill targeting foreign websites that offer pirated content or counterfeit products to propose legislative language on alternative ways to address the problem.
"I'd love to see some legislation and not just some talking points," Leahy said when asked about a draft proposal released last week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who oppose his bill.
The Protect IP Act, which Leahy authored, was approved by the Judiciary Committee in May but has been blocked from moving to the Senate floor by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden and other critics, including tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, argue that Leahy's bill and a similar measure introduced in the House known as the Stop Online Piracy Act would stifle innovation and free speech and could undermine the integrity of the Internet's domain name system.
Wyden and a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers released a draft proposal last week that proposes a different approach that would cut off advertising dollars and payment options to foreign websites that provide pirated music, movies or counterfeit products.
The proposal calls for putting the International Trade Commission in charge of enforcing the measure's provisions, instead of the Justice Department as called for by the Protect IP Act and SOPA. The lawmakers are seeking comments on the proposal for the next few weeks and may offer legislation early next year.
So far, the proposal has gotten a cool reception from copyright groups that favor Leahy's bill and SOPA.
"This proposal is impractical for individual artists and creators. Forcing them to litigate claims against foreign rogue sites before the (International Trade Commission) rather than in their home jurisdictions would effectively deny them their day in court," Sandra Aistars, executive director of the Copyright Alliance, said in a statement last week.
Like Leahy, the Recording Industry Association of America said it is difficult to judge the proposal without seeing actual legislative language.
"Looking generally at the draft, some concepts might have value, but there is no reason why they shouldn't be cooperatively offered as part of pending legislation rather than starting from scratch with a brand new bill in a different committee's jurisdiction that will take years to process," an RIAA spokeswoman said. "The problem of rogue sites is too acute and too damaging to wait years for relief."
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