New Law Could Shut Down Pirate Websites For Good

Dennis Faas's picture

For Hollywood and the music industry, there's no greater foe than online pirate sites, places where users flock together to share copyrighted movies and songs. Now, a cadre of American senators are making an effort to essentially block these illicit websites by forcing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into doing the work for them.

The proposed law is simple: if the United States Justice Department finds a domain to be engaged in the distribution of pirated intellectual property, it would file civil action against the site. The ISP of any offending domain found to be based in the U.S. would then receive an order to shut down access to the site.

Proposed Law to Protect Intellectual Property

This rather shocking step against piracy is part of the current administration's new crusade to protect American intellectual property. Earlier this summer Vice President Joe Biden received plenty of media coverage when he noted: "Piracy is theft, clean and simple. It's smash and grab." (Source:

For those in the movie and music industries, this was finally some commitment to the idea that owning, listening to, or watching an illegally downloaded digital file is the same as shoving a CD or Blu-ray inside one's coat while walking through a brick and mortar retailer.

Bill Extends to ISPs, Payment Processors, More

The law doesn't stop with U.S.-based sites, however.

Instead, the proposed bill would give the attorney general power "to serve the court order on other specified third parties, such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs), payment processors, and online ad network providers."

In essence, the government could prevent suspect sites from being accessed by American web visitors or getting paid through credit card transactions and marketing deals with U.S. web firms.

MPAA Laud New Bill

No doubt one of the main targets of this anti-piracy campaign will be Scandinavian site The Pirate Bay. Shutting off U.S. traffic of all kinds could have a significant impact on websites such as this.

The proposed law, which is known as The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, is backed by several senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Republican Orrin Hatch (R-UT). (Source:

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) executive Bob Pisano immediately reacted with applause for the law, which he sees as a way to prevent "efforts to steal the lifeblood" of his industry.

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