Capital-building.jpgLos Angeles – United States Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, has blocked a controversial copyright bill that would require ISP’s, search engines, and other businesses to block access to websites that promote copyright infringement, piracy, and counterfeiting.

On Thursday, just two weeks after the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, also known as the Protect IP Act, was introduced, Senator Wyden blocked it from even coming to the Senate floor for a vote.  Senate rules only require one senator to place a hold on a bill, however the block can be overridden by a 60-vote majority. 

The Protect IP Act was designed to give the U.S. Department of Justice the ability to obtain court orders requiring ISP’s and search engines to block internet traffic to websites that commit copyright infringement.  The bill would also enable copyright holders to obtain court orders requiring payment processors and online advertisers to stop doing business with the infringing websites. 

In a statement made by Senator Wyden, he said, “I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and to combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective.  At the expense of legitimate commerce, [the bill’s] prescription takes an overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective.  The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.”

Supporters of the bill like Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), are adamant that the bill is necessary to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting by foreign websites.  The bill would target the worst offenders of online piracy and counterfeiting and shut down their business by diverting Internet traffic away from their sites and not allow PayPal and other sites to process payments for them. 

Senator Leahy responded to the blocking of the bill by saying, “Copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods can cost American businesses billions of dollars, and result in hundreds and thousands of lost jobs.”

You can find more information about the effects of foreign piracy and counterfeiting on the U.S. economy from our blog post dated May 19, 2011: Intellectual Property Infringement in China Costs U.S. Jobs