|For Immediate Release
December 15, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act”
Chairman Smith: “The bill in Congress now, critics say, goes much too far …. The Internet’s potential … could be crippled …. [The bill] could … turn out to be the executioner of the Internet’s real promise.”
With all the strident and unfounded claims that have been made about H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” one can be forgiven for thinking those words were written about this bill.
But those words were published 15 years ago. And the bill that critics targeted for defeat was the measure that eventually was signed into law as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the DMCA.
A dozen years later, Wired magazine called it “the law that saved the web,” and wrote that “[b]logs, search engines, e-commerce sites, video and social-networking portals are thriving today thanks in large part to the notice-and-takedown regime ushered in by the much-maligned copyright overhaul.”
In hindsight, what so many had attacked and feared helped promote and advance their interests.
It is my view that providing new, effective tools to combat the theft of intellectual property online will similarly promote the interests of all stake-holders.
While the DMCA helps, it only applies in limited circumstances:
It provides no effective relief when a rogue web-site is foreign-based and foreign-operated like PirateBay - the 89th most visited site in the U.S.;
It doesn’t protect trademark owners and consumers from counterfeit and unsafe products like fake prescription medications available on legitimate-appearing but unlicensed “online pharmacies”;
It doesn’t assist copyright owners when foreign rogue sites are devoted to the theft of intellectual property on a massive scale;
And, finally, it does nothing to address the use of intermediaries such as payment processors and Internet advertising services that are employed by criminals to fund illegal activities.
That’s why the Stop Online Piracy Act is needed.
This bill will make it more difficult for those who engage in criminal behavior to reach directly into the U.S. market to inflict harm on American consumers.
Laws equip U.S. authorities and right-holders to take action against criminals who operate within our borders. But there is no parallel authority that permits effective action against criminals who operate from abroad.
The situation has deteriorated to the point where the Register of Copyrights testified before this Committee last month, “It is my view that if Congress does not continue to provide serious responses to online piracy, the U.S. copyright system will ultimately fail.”
As of this morning, typing “download movies for free” into Google will take you to sites like PirateBay that offer free copies of infringing films and TV shows.
The problem of rogue web-sites is real, immediate and increasing. It harms companies across the spectrum. And its scope is staggering. One recent survey found that nearly one quarter of global Internet traffic is infringing.
The resultant economic losses run into the hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
Since the U.S. produces more intellectual property than any other country, our citizens have the most to lose if we fail to engage and implement meaningful solutions.
I believe the manager’s amendment addresses the legitimate concerns that have been expressed, including protection of the First Amendment, due process, and the integrity and security of the Internet.
The manager’s amendment also includes provisions that ensure the protection of the Internet and its underlying system. It makes clear that no harm can come to Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) by eliminating any requirement to direct or redirect users to another site.
It protects the security and integrity of the DNS by establishing a “kill switch” that will allow a provider to not carry out an order upon a finding that it would “impair the security or integrity of the system.” The amendment ensures that the bill cannot be construed to require any order that would harm the DNS, and requires a study to ensure no DNS harm.
This is a good bill that is the product of an extensive process that has involved Members on both sides of the aisle. The Manager’s Amendment improves the legislation, increases industry support and ensures the promotion of American innovation and the protection of U.S. jobs.
I encourage Members of the Committee to support the amendment and look forward to working with all who are committed to enacting an effective and comprehensive measure.