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Always further - intellectual property: PIPA law

A Large-scale operation in the United States to limit piracy

 Approved last month, the PIPA bill (IP Protect Act - Preventing Online Real Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011.), also known as US Senate Bill S.968, aims at fighting against the 'pirate' websites, which provide illegal access to copyrighted works. This bill will deny access and linking to these sites - especially those registered outside the United States. Thus, it gives unprecedented powers of repression to the Federal Department. 

Indeed, this bill provides for a set of technical mechanisms to allow to the U.S. authorities and foremost to the rights owner to prevent access to sites, supported by the "intermediaries" that allow an access to them from the United States. Officials could actually track down the foreign sites “dedicated to infringing activities.”

The concept of intermediaries is vast and covers: 

- Internet service providers, which could block access to servers hosting the incriminated sites;

- Search engines, so that the sites are made invisible;

- Portals that would also remove links to illegal sites;

- Credit card companies would be forced to refuse transactions;

- Advertisers and advertising network.

The project allows also the department to inactivate the address of pirates sites through the domain names – DNS – meaning that their web address would not be translated in a digital language, understood by the computer. PIPA will allow, by extension, private entities to complain against the owner of a website, in order to put it in black list pending the trial.

A">new bill introduced recently by Senator Amy Klobuchar adds new amendments. The "public performance by electronic means" making available protected works without permission would also be considered as a criminal charge, what requires amendments to Section 5 of the U.S. copyright code. Indeed, the amendment aims at extending “public performance” to streaming. Nowadays, only "reproducing" and "distributing" copyrighted works (which includes peer-to-peer and downloads) are considered "felony charge”. The accused would face up to five years in prison and be charged a fine if they show ten or more "public performances" via electronic means in any 180-day period, as well as if the total retail value of these "public performances" reaches more than $ 2,500 or if the price of licensing a single "public performance " exceeds $ 5000. 

Obviously, the bill is strongly debated, and in particular the definitions of "streaming", "public performance" and the people involved - sites or users? Most critics mention the potential for abuse, especially since private companies are given a right to take action under the bill.

PIPA is a rewrite of COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act) which was a first legal attempt to impose more control over networks. The next step is a possible parliamentary review in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

credit: Peiboliche


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Reference texts

 PIPA (Project IP Act) : “A BILL To prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes”


Press review

The New York Times

The Minnesota Independent

The Washington Post



Electronic Frontier Foundation

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