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Media, Entertainment Companies to Congress: ‘Stop Online Piracy’

13 Dec, 2011

Dozens of New York entertainment companies — including Viacom, Time Warner, CBS and NBC-Universal — are lobbying Congress to pass two different bills aimed at curbing online piracy.

The letter, which was sent to Congress in letter form and is running as an ad in national publications, urges passage of both the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PROTECT IP. The former currently is before the Senate, while the latter is before the House Judiciary Committee, and both would expand Justice Department powers to reign in foreign websites dealing in illegal goods.

Another bill, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, relies less on the courts and more on existing trade laws to counter the flow of illegal digital goods into the United States.

“Every day, internet criminals use illegal foreign websites to steal from New York companies and hardworking Americans,” the letter reads. “… They steal movies, television broadcasts, music and books. These illegal foreign websites are destroying American jobs and causing billions in lost revenue. They threaten the jobs of some of the best-known creative talent in the world, many of whom belong to New York guilds and unions. And they threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of musicians, songwriters, artists and professionals in entertainment companies, worldwide sports organizations and telecasters — in New York and across America.”

Sen. Chris Dodd Chairman, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said Dec. 13 in a speech to the Center for American Progress, that some action needs to be taken against foreign websites trafficking in illegal content. He cited statistics that show a quarter of global Internet traffic is copyright-infringing.

“These foreign rogue sites we are aiming at are not casual endeavors. They are sophisticated criminal enterprises,” he said, according to prepared comments. “Contrary to piracy apologists, the operators of these fraudulent sites aren’t overzealous film buffs or political activists making a statement about freedom of information. They are criminals, plain and simple: They don’t innovate, they don’t adhere to manufacturing standards, and they certainly don’t pay taxes on the proceeds from their scams.

“Attacking international content theft is not about restricting speech. Quite the opposite,” Dodd added.

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