Utah Attorney General backs SOPA legislation

Mark L. Shurtleff is no fan of Internet piracy. In an editorial for The Salt Lake Tribune last week, Shurtleff called online counterfeiters and rogue foreign sites a threat to safety, innovation and the local economy. His solution? The Senate should pass PROTECT IP, and the House should pass SOPA.

Shurtleff named copyrighted music, prescription drugs and bootleg movies as just a few of the products offered by “the worst of the worst infringers on the Internet.” According to the Attorney General, some rogue sites even turn legitimate consumers into unwitting pirates:

The sites prey on unsuspecting consumers by cloaking themselves with an air of legitimacy. They mimic legal retail sites in an effort to fool unwary customers who are taken in by the appearance of the websites themselves. The sites look legitimate, often have sophisticated graphics, carry advertising from legitimate companies that have no idea their ads have been placed there and accept credit cards and other major forms of payment in exchange for their illegal products.

A report published by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for The American Assembly last year questioned the preconceived notion that people accidentally pirate content. On the contrary, the study found piracy was common and widespread, with 70 percent of 18-to-29-year-old respondents admitting that they’ve acquired songs or movies through illegal channels.

Shurtleff, however, argued that the two proposed anti-piracy bills PROTECT IP and SOPA, which were introduced last year in the Senate and House of Representatives (respectively), need to be passed as part of the government’s “strong, sustained effort” against domestic piracy.

“While the committee recognizes more work may be needed to clarify language and avoid any unintended consequences, the time for action against these sites is now,” said Shurtleff. “In the interests of American citizens and businesses, it is time for Congress to enact rogue sites legislation.”

The MPAA applauded the Attorney General’s piece, taking the opportunity to fire a shot at anti-SOPA advocates.

“Utah Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff effectively hammers the point that Google, Yahoo and others have spent millions trying to distort – that states which allow rogue websites to operate unfettered will experience massive revenue reduction and job loss,” said Gregory Joseph, MPAA spokesperson.

A vote on SOPA was delayed last month. Critics believe passing the bill could potentially lead to web censorship and ineffective cyber security.