It seems the lame duck Congressional session is becoming anything but unproductive. Yesterday, we saw the cloture of the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), and today the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act was unanimously approved by the US Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday with a 19-0 vote. The COICA has been overwhelmingly viewed by bloggers as a corporate hijacking of the internet by mega-media cartels. Indeed, it’s eventual passage will be the end of the free internet as we now it.
The Associated Press reported on the COICA vote:
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which has the support of the entertainment industry but has been strongly criticized by digital rights and other groups, was approved by a vote of 19-0.
“Few things are more important to the future of the American economy and job creation than protecting our intellectual property,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who co-sponsored the bill.
“That is why the legislation is supported by both labor and industry, and Democrats and Republicans are standing together,” Leahy said.
The bill gives the Justice Department an expedited process for cracking down on websites engaged in piracy or the sale of counterfeit goods including having courts issue shutdown orders against domains based outside the United States.
“Rogue websites are essentially digital stores selling illegal and sometimes dangerous products,” Leahy said. “If they existed in the physical world, the store would be shuttered immediately and the proprietors would be arrested.”
“We cannot excuse the behavior because it happens online and the owners operate overseas,” he said. “The Internet needs to be free — not lawless.”