There’s no dispute rightsholders need some means of enforcing their copyrights and trademarks online. Understandably, this is tough to do when an overseas site is doing the infringing. But SOPA’s definition of “rogue sites” is poor, its remedies extreme, and plenty of legitimate sites could be targeted. In short, as written SOPA is overreaching and will harm legitimate activities. It raises serious issues about free speech, censorship, and online piracy. And, the level of debate on the issues has been one-sided with those who question SOPA’s provisions branded as siding with the “pirates.”
Ed Black, head of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which counts eBay, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo as members, said the bill was “akin to trying to block phones calls by ripping a page from a phone book.”
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However, a decidedly more palatable solution was unveiled Friday. Under the proposed draft the International Trade Commission (ITC) would be given the authority to issue cease-and-desist orders to foreign websites that willfully engage in copyright/trademark infringement. The ITC already investigates patent infringement complaints and can bar infringing products from being imported into the U.S.
Owners of the websites would be invited to present their side to the ITC, and the public would be notified of investigations, as the ITC does in patent investigations. ITC rulings against websites could be appealed to a U.S. appeals court.