Intellectual Property

ITIF Comments on PIPA/SOPA Developments

Amid recent moves by House and Senate leaders and White House statements on DNS filtering provisions in legislation before Congress aimed at cracking down on online piracy, ITIF issued the following statement: Read more »

Piracy and Malware: Two Parts of a Single Problem

January 9, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

Some people think it is OK to crack down on truly online heinous online criminals (child pornographers, cyberterrorists and the like) but take a buyer-beware attitude with other online crime, notably IP theft. Are a few singers or movie makers worth destroying the Internet? But that view point is not only cavalier about IP theft but it also wrongly assumes the Internet ecosystem is made up a of tidy compartments. In Piracy and Malware: Two Parts of a Single Problem, ITIF Senior Research Fellow Richard Bennett explains there is a significant overlap between sites trafficking in IP theft and those trafficking in malware. Legislation aimed at rogue foreign sites, the Stop Online Privacy Act, while not a complete solution, does at least recognize that IP and malware are connected and the cost of IP-related crime to the U.S. economy and the security of consumers warrants action.

Protecting Americans from Web Scams

December 30, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

Just as a 411 operator won’t tell you an unlisted number, DNS can refuse to provide Internet addresses if it chooses. SOPA simply requires ISPs to delist the Internet addresses of foreign sites found by a US court to be dedicated to criminal activities. DNS has had the ability to delist sites since it was designed in 1987, and all widely used DNS services have this capability.

SOPA critics charge that such filtering breaks the Internet, but it does no such thing as long as it’s done sensibly. (Security experts criticized an early version of SOPA, but the amended bill addresses their concerns.) It’s a practical means of protecting consumers from rogue sites that traffic in illegal goods.

Refusing to Answer for Policy Reasons

December 30, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

Senior Research Fellow Richard Bennett continues to expand upon the SOPA debate by examining the design of DNS in this blog for The Hill. He recognizes that not everyone likes the idea of using technical measures to reduce the incidence of crime on the Internet; but indicates that Response Policy and anti-spam measures have drawn considerable fire from Internet traditionalists and ardent free speech mavens. It’s unreasonable to claim that these measures are the products of “Internet ignorance” simply because Congress is not over-stocked with members who can describe Secure DNS in exacting detail; they’re consistent with the long-standing design of DNS.

It seems that SOPA’s technical critics may have forgotten a detail or two about this part of the Internet themselves.

Stop Protecting Criminal Behavior: Why the Critics Are Wrong About the Stop Online Piracy Act

Huffington Post
Criticism of SOPA usually fall under four major categories. When compared to the facts, these charges just do not hold up.

Protect-IP and SOPA Acts Will Not 'Break the Internet'

Numerous independent analyses, including ITIF's report, have concluded claims PIPA/SOPA will "break the internet" have no merit.

DNS Filtering is an American Innovation

December 14, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

Is the DNS blacklisting mechanism included in the PROTECT-IP and SOPA bills contrary the spirit of the Internet and American innovation? A post in The Hill’s "Congress Blog" says it is. But less than a year ago, its main author was singing a different tune. DNS filtering is not only an American innovation, it's Paul Vixie's innovation.

Think Tank: Anti-Piracy Legislation Would Not Lead to Censorship

PIPA/SOPA makes no attempt to regulate speech on the internet. An individual’s right to free speech is not a license to infringe on the IP rights of others.

Congress should demonstrate to other nations that combatting online infringement, including by blocking illegal sites, will neither “break the Internet” nor harm free speech.

Policymakers should understand that no bill that targets foreign infringing sites would be acceptable to ideologically-driven advocates, including those who populate Internet standards bodies, regardless of their claims that they also want to reduce piracy. However, other critics have raised reasonable questions about aspects of the legislation, particularly of SOPA. While the countermeasures proposed in PIPA/SOPA that make it more difficult to distribute, locate, and earn revenue from foreign infringing websites should be adopted, policymakers should also listen to the legitimate concerns of stakeholders who make good-faith efforts to improve the legislation, rather than kill it. In particular, policymakers should ensure that the enforcement mechanisms in PIPA/SOPA are targeted, fair, and effective.
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