Thank you for taking the time to write me regarding the H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011” (SOPA). Your input is invaluable to me as I try to do my best representing your interests in Washington.
As you are aware, H.R. 3261 was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21) and was designed to target foreign websites that sell stolen or pirated content to U.S. consumers. The bill would allow the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign “rogue” websites proven to be wholly dedicated to the sale of pirated or counterfeit U.S. innovations and products.
Rogue websites—those websites dedicated to the sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated products—have become common-place on the web. Consumers are lured to sophisticated and well-designed websites, complete with corporate advertising, credit card payment options and other false indicators of legitimacy. However, these sites tempt unsuspecting consumers to download or purchase unauthorized, copyrighted material—including the latest movies, music or even counterfeit products, such as pharmaceuticals to luxury goods.
These rogue websites cost American jobs by counterfeiting products and pirating content. Importantly, they put innocent consumers at risk by selling fake, unsafe products such as pharmaceuticals. And they often lead to identify theft and the spreading of malicious viruses onto computers. Online counterfeiting and piracy is theft, plain and simple, and if left unchecked, it will have detrimental effects on our economy and our safety.
Some technology companies have raised concerns that the legislation may expose law-abiding U.S. internet and technology companies to additional liability and requirements that they monitor websites. Other groups question whether there is a need for the federal government to interject itself and new regulations into the Web and that any regulations could stymie innovation and job growth in this sector. I certainly appreciate the important role the internet plays in our economy and in creating jobs and believe that Congress should develop a targeted solution to stop foreign rogue websites.
H.R. 3261 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet where it awaits further action. House Congressional Hearings have been postponed and no vote is scheduled for the bill. Changes to the legislation may either be proposed in the form of amendments during a markup of the bill in Committee, or could be included in a new bill altogether.