CDT released a memo today detailing major concerns with S. 3804, the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act.” Copyright infringement is a serious problem, and CDT harbors no sympathy for websites whose primary purpose is to enable widespread violation of copyright and other intellectual property rights. If enacted, though, this bill would stand out as a sea change in U.S. policy toward intermediaries, and would have significant implications for free speech, internet governance, and global internet freedom.
The bill would allow the Justice Department to bring actions against domain names (not the operators of the sites – literally the domain name itself) connected to sites that are “dedicated to infringing activities.” Orders coming out of these actions would place obligations on several types of intermediaries. Domestic domain registrars and registries would be required to suspend and lock the targeted domain, taking it down for the world. Alternatively, ISPs would be required to interfere with DNS requests for the domain, and payment networks and ad networks would be required to stop doing business with the site connected to the domain.
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