Yesterday, I wrote about the largest file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit based on the number of defendants (23,322), which was recently filed. The subject of the matter is the illegal downloading of the 2010 movie, The Expendables. While the studio that released the movie will probably be happy based on the sheer number of small settlement offers accepted by the group of defendants, the federal government wants to take action to curb the illegal downloading altogether in an effort to prevent needless litigation from clogging the courts.
Let me introduce you to the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (the PROTECT IP Act). Those federal legislators are always oh so creative with their legislation titles. At its core, the PROTECT IP Act strives to provide the government and copyright holders the ability to shut down websites contributing to copyright infringement. All those sites hosting links to sharable Torrent files of movies, music, and other copyright protected files would be at risk of being closed based on their supposed contribution to piracy.
The PROTECT IP Act also pays special concern to websites that believe they are immune to federal government action based on their registration outside of the United States. To combat these websites from escaping the reach of the government, the PROTECT IP Act will allow United States authorities to tell search engines to no longer provide infringing websites in search results, force internet service providers to disallow access to the websites, and mandate that United States based advertising networks and payment processors no longer work with the sites. Private action is also available by the copyright holders themselves, so long as they first seek a court order, but search engines and internet service providers are immune from such private action.
The age of censorship has arrived. It is a reaction to the vast openness created by peer-to-peer networks where files can be shared at ease without any control over copyright infringement. Expect a slew of new lawsuits based on the PROTECT IP Act if it is passed and turned into law. A summary of the Act is below.