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Combatting the Rogue Website Scourge!

Posted by: Andrew Langer on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 12:00:00 am
The recognition of private property was and is one of the bedrock principles of our nation and our Constitution.  The Founders understood that when people own property they will care for it and improve it, for their own benefit and ultimately to the benefit of society.  They also understood that protecting property is a core function of government to ensure liberty, and that depriving citizens of their property unfairly is an act of despotism.

That is true for private homes, the products of one’s labors, and it is true for the products of the mind – intellectual property (IP).  Although less well-known than some of the other Constitutional provisions about property, the Founders specifically granted to Congress the authority “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  Art. I, Sec. 8, Cl. 8.  This embodies the free market spirit of the Founders; give people property rights in their creativity and innovation, and society will benefit from more and better creativity and innovation.

And it has worked.  The United States is the envy of the world for our IP-intensive industries, which employ over 19 million Americans, account for 60% of our exports, and generate $7.7 trillion in output.  But in some cases that envy has turned to greed, and led to theft.

The theft of American IP, whether it is the piracy of copyrighted content or slapping our most respected companies’ names on shoddy knock-offs, is occurring with alarming frequency.  Foreign pirates and trademark counterfeiters have turned to the Internet to increase the volume and reach of their illicit trade.  Operating rogue websites dedicated to this theft, they steal our most innovative and creative products and then sell us dangerous copies of them.  These rogue websites steal our jobs, poison the Internet, and endanger American consumers, and they do it all from beyond the reach of our law enforcement agencies and courts.

But there is an answer.  If we can’t shut down these criminal operations, at least we can cut them off from the American marketplace.  We can disrupt their abuse of the Internet, and we can dry up their flow of money.  The PROTECT IP Act, S. 968, is now pending in the U.S. Senate.  If enacted, this bill can protect American consumers, preserve American jobs, and help clean up the Internet by allowing courts to order companies to cut off rogue websites from the American market.

Protecting our intellectual property rights is a fundamental, constitutional duty of our government.  The theft perpetrated by rogue websites undermines the Founders’ design.  The PROTECT IP Act is a critically needed tool to restore the Founders’ vision.
Today, we applaud Senators Leahy, Grassley, and Hatch as well as the entire Senate Judiciary Committee for their unanimous support of the PROTECT IP Act, which was unanimously approved by that committee this morning.

To learn more about rogue websites, please visit www.fightonlinetheft.com.


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