In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro made the case for balanced but aggressive action to combat online piracy.
In testimony submitted for the record for a February 16 hearing focused on “Targeting Websites Dedicated To Stealing American Intellectual Property,” Castro argued that proposed legislation to combat piracy, “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), will not undermine free speech or inhibit innovation on the Internet but it will curtail an illegal, costly and increasingly widespread activity. The legislation was authored by Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in 2010.
“COICA is important because it recognizes that online piracy is no longer about college students trading files in their dorm room, but instead it has grown in to a multi-million dollar international business,” Castro wrote. “Sites hosting pirated content or linking to pirated content can generate a significant amount of revenue from online advertising and sales. COICA would provide a mechanism to not only cut off access to these sites, but also cut off their funding mechanisms to make operating online piracy sites unprofitable.”
The legislation includes a number of recommendations ITIF made in a 2009 report, “Steal These Policies: Strategies for Combating Digital Piracy,” including creating a process by which the federal government, with the help of third parties, can identify websites around the world that are systemically engaged in piracy.
Castro dismissed critics of the legislation who argue that the bill would hurt free speech, encourage censorship in foreign countries, and cripple the technological infrastructure on which the Internet runs, explaining, “Not only is this criticism untrue, but more robust enforcement of digital copyrights would likely lead to a stronger Internet ecosystem and more innovative content and services for consumers.”