On September 20, 2010, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the “Combating Online infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA), S. 3804 — an effort to battle online IP infringement. The Act seeks to target piracy websites, presumably torrent sites, and provides two legal remedies for addressing online infringement:
For domestic sites, the Attorney General can request a judge issue a court order to require that a U.S.-based domain registrar (e.g. GoDaddy.com) or the U.S.-based registry (e.g. VeriSign) to suspend the domain name. Doing this would mean that users who type in this domain in their browser would receive an error message stating that the site is unavailable. For nondomestic sites where the United States does not have jurisdiction to require that the domain name be suspended, the Attorney General can request a court order requiring ISPs to block access to the infringing sites, credit card companies to suspend processing transactions for them, and ad networks to suspend serving ads to these sites.
The legislation is opposed by Free Speech and Free Internet advocates who see it as a first step in a government take-over of the internet. Counter-advocates include the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, which has published an article in defense of the legislation, arguing that critics’ arguments amount to a meritless parade of horribles.
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