Online Pirates Are Costly and Dangerous

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 7:00pm

U.S. News
By: Steve Tepp

Rogue websites that steal our innovative and creative products have a history of taking from Americans. Through the more than 53 billion visits that rogue sites attract each year, more than 19 million American jobs are put on the chopping block as rogue sites illegally take a bite of the $7.7 trillion in output that these industries contribute to the U.S. economy.

Especially in this time of economic recovery, we cannot stand by and watch while American companies and the jobs they support are being bled by foreign criminals who are taking advantage of a massive loophole in our law enforcement capabilities. These illicit enterprises are not tolerated in the brick and mortar marketplace, so why would we allow them to flourish unchecked online?

Congress is currently considering legislation that could help cut these criminals off from the American market, the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. Both of these bills provide enforcement agencies with a narrowly tailored legal toolkit for 21st-century commerce to go after the worst-of-the-worst online counterfeiters and pirates.

Rogue sites undercut industries and jobs across the American economy, ranging from medicine to cosmetics, or from green technologies to clothing manufacturers. Insidiously, these sites are designed to look authentic, deceiving consumers into purchasing phony products, which can be shoddy or even dangerous.

That is why there is a broad and far-reaching coalition calling for Congress to address this pervasive issue, including the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 43 state attorneys general, over 70 congressional Republicans and Democrats, the National Consumers League, the Fraternal Order of Police, and many more.

We need commercially reasonable and effective measures to combat this scourge of the Internet. Court-approved action to cut off rogue Internet sites from our marketplace—not new technology, but presently in use to block websites offering child porn and spam—provides such a tool to tackle websites that perpetuate this illicit market.

There is no tangible benefit to appeasing foreign IP thieves. They do not innovate, they do not pay taxes, they do not take accountability for their products. But they are more than willing to engage in illegal, criminal activities at our expense. The PROTECT IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts provide a treatment for this online plague.

Steve Tepp, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce