White House calls for new law targeting 'offshore' Web sitesDespite January's widespread protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act, the White House is asking Congress to enact a new copyright law "to address offshore infringement."
by Declan McCullagh
Apr. 02, 2012
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Only weeks after protests over two digital copyright bills demonstrated the political muscle of Internet users, the White House is publicly endorsing new copyright legislation that also would target suspected pirate Web sites.
After the unprecedented outcry against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act -- designed to target offshore copyright-infringing Web sites -- supporters of the bills on Capitol Hill backed down and moved on to other topics.
But the White House today reignited the congressional debate by throwing its weight behind legislation targeting offshore Web sites. "We believe that new legislative and non-legislative tools are needed to address offshore infringement," today's report (PDF) says.
The report, prepared by U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, who President Obama appointed to the job in 2009, lists Protect IP and SOPA as "examples of recent attempts by Congress to address the issues of counterfeiting and piracy online." It also endorses the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and lauds Internet providers, including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable, for agreeing last summer to become Internet copyright cops.
The White House did say that it wouldn't endorse a bill that endangers freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risks, or negatively affects the DNS system. On the other hand, it says elsewhere that "combating online infringement" -- not protecting free speech -- is a governmental priority "of the highest order."