Sen. Durbin Responds to my SOPA Letter

Just got this SOPA-related response from Sen. Durbin’s office in my email, regarding my earlier email. Suffice it to say that this doesn’t go into any details about how “reasonable steps to cease doing business” is a can of worms big enough to fit, like, a really big number of worms, and it doesn’t sound like he fully changed his mind. Still, the bills are tabled for now, so it’s all good.

Mr. Patrick Stack

Dear Mr. Stack:

Thank you for contacting me about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). I appreciate hearing from you.

The bipartisan PIPA bill (S. 968) was introduced to rein in foreign-based websites that have no purpose other than to sell or distribute pirated or counterfeit goods. U.S. law enforcement agencies already have authority to seize and shut down domestic websites that are dedicated to violating copyright or counterfeiting laws, and hundreds of sites have been shut down in recent years. However, our law enforcement agencies lack effective tools to stop foreign-based websites that are dedicated to the same illegal behavior. These websites deprive American innovators and businesses of revenue and result in the loss of American jobs.

PIPA aims to close the gap in our laws that enables rogue websites to simply locate themselves overseas in order to avoid accountability for stealing American intellectual property and selling pirated and counterfeit goods to Americans. The legislation would authorize the Justice Department to seek a court-ordered injunction against a foreign website if the court found the website to be dedicated to illegal piracy or counterfeiting. If an injunction were issued by the court, it could be served upon third-party payment processors, advertising networks, search engines and other companies who would then be obligated to take reasonable steps to cease doing business with the infringing website.

The drafters of this legislation tried to address the serious problem of foreign rogue websites in a way that respects due process, protects freedom of legislation, and preserves the vitality of the Internet. However, I have heard from many constituents that PIPA and a more expansive bill introduced in the House of Representatives, SOPA, fail to strike the right balance between the goals of combating illegal piracy and protecting the Internet. Both the House and the Senate have postponed consideration of these bills in order to engage in more discussion with stakeholders and achieve more consensus on a legislative approach. I support these efforts and hope that stakeholders can agree on a reasonable solution that addresses these important issues.

I will keep your concerns in mind as the Senate continues to consider these matters. Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to keep in touch.

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

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