A broad coalition of industry and labor groups descended on the House on Tuesday to rally support for legislation that would give them new tools to crack down on foreign websites engaged in piracy and counterfeiting.
About 40 representatives of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy were set to meet on Tuesday with House leaders and key members of the House Judiciary Committee to lobby on behalf of the legislation.
The coalition, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is made up of a broad range of stakeholders, from the Association of American Publishers to software maker Autodesk to unions such as the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The latest lobbying push is similar to one the coalition made last summer in the Senate.
During a breakfast briefing to kick off the lobbying, Monster Cable General Manager and Vice President of Operations David Tognotti said the proliferation of rogue websites that sell counterfeit versions of Monster’s audio and video cables is crippling growth of companies like his.
“Current [intellectual property] laws don’t give brand owners the tools they need to fight these websites,” he said.
Legislation approved in May by the Senate Judiciary Committee would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order requiring third parties such as advertisers or Internet registrars to stop doing business with foreign websites that offer pirated content or counterfeit products.
That bill, however, has been blocked from moving to the Senate floor by Sen. Roy Wyden, D-Ore. He and other critics of the legislation say it will stifle free speech and innovation.
Wyden told National Journal on Tuesday that he is not under pressure from his colleagues to remove his hold on the legislation despite the heavy lobbying.
House Judiciary leaders also are working on their own version of the bill. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said in an interview that he is hoping to introduce legislation next week. He says it will differ from the Senate measure, though he wouldn’t elaborate.
“We have some different ideas, but we are working with the Senate every step of the way so much so that we hope that what we do will be acceptable to the Senate and will be a bipartisan bill,” Smith said. “We’re trying to follow the prototype of the patent bill.”
After passing its own version of the patent legislation, the Senate ultimately cleared the House’s version and sent it to the president, who signed the bill into law last month.
When asked about how the House measure may address some of the concerns raised by critics about the Senate bill, Smith said, “That’s all being negotiated.”
Coalition members argue that foreign sites offering pirated content and counterfeit goods are not only robbing U.S. companies of sales and hampering job growth, they also pose a danger to consumers in the form of counterfeit drugs and other bogus products.