Yesterday the American Library Association, along with several other non-profit and library organizations, sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary committee leadership opposing S. 968 in its current form. The bill, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP Act of 2011), which was introduced on May 12 by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Hatch (R-UT) and Grassley (R-IA), is supposed to crack down on rogue websites dedicated to the sale of infringing or counterfeit goods. However, as our letter states, “…certain provisions within S. 968 continue to threaten the stability, freedom, and economic potential of the Internet.”
The library community’s specific concern with this legislation is its potential impact on first amendment rights. As stated in our letter, as currently drafted, “…S. 968 makes nearly every actor on the Internet potentially subject to enforcement orders under the bill, raising new policy questions regarding government interference with online activity and speech. “
The bill is essentially a brushed-off, revised version of S. 3804, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced in the 111th Congress.
The letter was sent on the eve of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s discussion of the bill slated for today’s agenda. In addition, organizations representing the technology industry sent their own letter to the committee’s leadership echoing the same concerns.
The PROTECT IP Act of 2011 is a piece of legislation we will continue to monitor.