Online piracy and internet censorship
14th December, 2011
The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Bill is the third in a series of bills which seek to effectively tackle the problem of on-line infringement. The US Congress has already been debating on two bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Bill and the PROTECT (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) IP Bill. Both bills seek to empower the US Department of Justice to take down sites found guilty of infringing or illegally distributing copyrighted content.
SOPA seeks to obligate a service provider to take ‘technically feasible and reasonable measures’ designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof). Other provisions like severing links of infringing sites to credit-card payment processing or advertisements are also envisaged. ISP providers, technology companies and consumers have opposed the bill stating that it threatens internet freedom and imposes heavy administrative and financial burden besides liability for third party actions. However, the right-holders like performing artists and movie producers support the bill.
The OPEN bill tries to address the problem by targeting infringing foreign sites by cutting access to payments and advertisement. The much criticised provisions of tracking or monitoring internet use in SOPA and PROTECT IP are absent in the bill. OPEN seeks to empower the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to prevent or prohibit completion of payment by financial service providers to such infringing sites. Also advertising companies can be asked to stop serving such sites. The USITC at present looks into infringing or counterfeit goods entering the US.