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Senator stalls bill aimed at online copyright infringement

US Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) [official website] stalled a bill on Friday that would allow the federal government to block websites allegedly participating in copyright infringement. The Combatting Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act (COICA) [text, PDF] aims to discourage Internet sites dedicated to infringement activities by allowing the Attorney General to petition for injunctive relief against such sites found in both domestic and international domains. Wyden objects to the bill because of the powers it gives the government, powers that the Senator feels may result in internet censorship [San Francisco Chronicle report]. If Senator Wyden is successful in stalling the bill until 2011, it will have to be resubmitted to the Senate [official website] for further consideration.

The COICA was easily approved [JURIST report] with a 19-0 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and has been hailed by the entertainment industry. Conversely, digital rights groups are strongly opposed to the bill, comparing the proposed restrictions to similar Internet restrictions [JURIST news archive] in Turkey and China. The COICA is part of the US initiative to discourage copyright infringement activities and infringement of other intellectual property rights. In October, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) [official website] and other participating countries released [JURIST report] a draft [text, PDF] of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [USTR backgrounder], an international pact to defend intellectual property rights from counterfeit and piracy. The draft was released after three years [JURIST report] and 10 rounds of negotiations among the ACTA parties. Notably, China, a source of many of the world's counterfeit goods, is not a participant [Reuters report] in the agreement or discussions.

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