On September 20, 2010, it was announced that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would introduce the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. This Act would give the U.S. Department of Justice the power to shut down web sites / disable domain names that are primarily designed, has no demostratable, commercially significant purpose or use other than, or is marketed by its operators, or by a person acting in concert with the operator, to offer -- goods or services, in violation of copyright or counterfeit laws, including offering the infringing goods or services themselves, offering access to such goods or services or providing a web site whereon users are directed to infringing goods and services via links.
Under the Act, as currently drafted, courts may issue a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction or an injunction against the domain name used by an Internet site dedicated to certain infringing activities. The Attorney General may commence an In Rem action against any domain name subject to the Act. For domain name registrars and registries located in the United States, a domain name will be deemed to have its situs in the judicial district in which (1) the domain name registry or registrar is located, or if there are multiple locations, where the registry operations are performed or (2) documents sufficient to establish control and authority regarding the disposition of the registration and use of the domain name are deposited with the court. If the situs of a domain name is in a foreign jurisdiction, the AG may still bring an action to prevent the importation of infringing goods and services into the United States.
The purpose of this Act is, of course, to reduce the flow of copyright infringing and counterfeit products into U.S. commerce, which may also protect U.S. consumers from infringing and unsafe products, job loss and protect company profits. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said that “The online sale of stolen intellectual property – whether pirated movies or music or counterfeit electronic goods or pharmaceuticals – hurts American companies, kills American jobs, and puts consumers at risk for defective products.”
This Act is a necessary weapon to combat a counterfeit epidemic that has hit the U.S. shores. To read more about our counterfeit epidemic, you can read my post.
If this Act is enacted, could it be misused to take down legitimate sites owned by Domainers? Unlikley. However, wouldn't this Act include Domainer sites used primarily for linking to other sites selling infringing and/or counterfeit goods? Absolutely.
Might this Act lead other acts aimed at the Domainer community? I highly doubt it. What do you think?