MPAA boss renews criticism of anti-piracy OPEN Act

Just before controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA were tabled by Congress, a much less provocative measure was introduced to tackle the piracy problem without the hanging dread of web censorship and screwing with the domain name system. The OPEN Act, introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa and supported by Rep. Ron Wyden, received support from the same Internet businesses that spoke out against previous anti-piracy legislation.

MPAA Executive Vice President Michael O' Leary, however, wasn't satisfied. The trade group boss last month called the bill's proposal to place the burden for shutting down foreign rogue sites on the International Trade Commission a big mistake. This week, O'Leary once again slammed the OPEN Act, saying it "falls significantly short" of meaningful anti-piracy legislation.

According to O'Leary, the OPEN Act doesn't include specific language that would force Google and other search engines to block links to foreign piracy sites. Moreover, he said the bill would actually impede the ITC and harm small businesses.

"The OPEN Act denies the ITC the authority they already have today to make search engines block infringing websites," O'Leary said. "Typically, the ITC can stop infringing material from being imported to the U.S."

O'Leary argued that the bill would drag the entire process of shutting down a foreign rogue site through the mud, wasting valuable time, energy and money.

"The OPEN Act re-writes a bureaucratic process instead of relying on experienced enforcement by the Attorney General and U.S. Federal Courts who have been successfully moving against criminal websites for years in the U.S., without any claims of breaking the Internet," said O'Leary. "This new hurdle - going through the ITC - creates a time consuming and costly method for all copyright holders to go after foreign thieves."

The ITC on average takes around 18 months to issue a verdict, he added.

Rep. Issa's OPEN act has yet to receive Congress' full attention and waits in the wings following a heated debate over its predecessors. Several websites blacked out content or shut down completely in protest of SOPA and PIPA last month, pushing lawmakers to shelve both bills. (via MPAA blog)

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