Bill to Crack Down on Foreign Internet Piracy Introduced in Senate

Hollywood hails legislation that would prevent sites from using U.S. internet service providers, payment processes and search engines

Film industry leaders praised new legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that is aimed at cracking down on online piracy. 

Entitled the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act ("PROTECT IP Act"), the bill would go after foreign websites that offer illegal downloads.

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It would prevent offending sites, which are outside the U.S. jurisdiction, from using the country's registrars, registries, internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services.

The Independent Film & Television Alliance, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Copyright Alliance and the National Association of Theatre Owners ) hailed the bill as an important step in their fight to root out websites that host stolen content.

"To the camera crew, the makeup artists, the truck drivers and all the other hard-working middle-class Americans involved in the making of a motion picture or television show, digital theft means declining incomes, lost jobs and reduced health and retirement benefits for them and their families," Michael O'Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs of the MPAA. "We want to thank Chairman Leahy, Senator Hatch and the other cosponsors for recognizing the true cost of online content theft and for seeking new tools to effectively enforce U.S. laws on the online marketplace." 

The various industry guilds also characterized the legislation as an important blow to copyright infringement, an issue that maintain impacts blue-collar production workers as much as it does the well-heeled red carpet set. 

The American Federation of Musicians, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada, Screen Actors Guild and International Brotherhood of Teamsters released a joint statement of support following the legislation's introduction.

"As the Guilds and Unions that represent 400,000 creators, performers and craftspeople who create the multitude of diverse films, television programs and sound recordings that are enjoyed by billions of people around the world, we unequivocally support this bill which, by providing protection for our members’ work, clearly shows that our government will not condone or permit the wholesale looting of the American economy and American creativity and ingenuity – regardless of how that looting is disguised on the Internet to fool the American consumer," the statement reads.

The bill was also sponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).