PROTECT IP Act Could Cost Taxpayers, Private Sector Millions

Taxpayers in the United States could soon be stuck footing the bill for some very costly copyright infringement enforcement.

For those that don't know, the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or Senate Bill S.968) is a piece of controversial legislation introduced on May 12, 2011 intended to force private ISPs, search engines and other parties to censor websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement. The bill is supported by a large number of infamous IP-protective agencies, including the MPAA, Viacom, SAG, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others.

The legislation is a re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which failed to pass in 2010. Opposition parties, such as the EFF, Google, eBay, and Human Rights Watch, decry the legislation because of fears that it will place free internet in danger. The bill focuses on websites not registered in the United States, and would give the U.S. Department of Justice the power to seek a court order against websites that have been cited as infringing on copyright law, and then to demand "information location tools" (terms borrowed from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to make the target website invisible, basically by "pruning" websites from domain name servers inside the U.S. The bill does not specify what constitutes an infringing website, and allows for an injunction to be issued without notification to the allegedly infringing site.

Based on estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, the enforcement of PROTECT IP will cost taxpayers just under $10 million a year. The majority of the money would be spent simply hiring  new DOJ employees and agents for support and to take legal action against infringing websites, working out to $47 million over five years just for the new hires. This is assuming that the estimates have not been down-played to speed up the bill's passage.

Another important, and yet conveniently ignored, concern with the bill is just how much it could cost the private sector. While the CBO is legally required to estimate whether proposed legislation will cost the private sector more than $142 million, in this case the CBO has refused estimates because of "uncertainty about how often and against whom the Department of Justice or copyright holders would use the authority" that the legislation will give them.

Essentially, this leaves ISPs, search engines, and credit card networks in the dark as to how this legislation could affect them financially. The constant updating and enforcing of blacklists across hundreds or thousands of firms would surely not be cheap, and brings into question just how well any money recouped through enforcement (which is a debatable issue in and of itself) would off-set the costs of the enforcement to begin with.
Via:  Ars Technica
omegadraco 3 years ago

I find this type of stuff crazy. It is going to cost taxpayers tons of money and accomplish nothing. In many cases people who download copyrighted material often purchase that same material (which of course they don't own...) again if they like it or make future purchases based on it.

Personally at least with music I do not buy anything anymore I use services like Pandora and Spotify because if I do not have the rights to do with my purchased item what I please why should I support them in that manner. Yes I know using Pandora and Spotify still supports the music industry.

jonation 3 years ago

IP litigation in this county is mad. They need to completely rework the system. This is not a step in the right direction, charging everyone to protect someone elses property? Shouldn't the owner pay for this "insurance" to protect their own investment?

Be afraid of the vagueness that plagues modern bills, they use it to support business's/organization's (not the consumer's or citizen's) benefit.

eunoia 3 years ago


AKwyn 3 years ago

[quote user="eunoia"]To put into perspective, Cars 2 brought in $68 million just on opening weekend.  One item of "intellectual property".  If just this one Disney film ends of making more money because of this, the law will pay for itself many times over in tax revenues.[/quote]

Cars 2 wasn't really pirated that much or anything; and I really doubt that this law will help revenues increase. I mean it's a known fact that if there's anything blocking them then they'll just circumvent it; additionally, piracy doesn't impact a movie's profits that much, I mean look at Avatar, it was the highest grossing film ever, beating Titanic. You thought the piracy could stop it, wrong? Also, removing the piracy wouldn't of made the movie make any more money than it did, thus this law doesn't help the entertainment industry in any way.

In fact, it'll prove a problem when it comes to content creation. If this law passes then anybody will be able to take down a website just by filing a request even though the content on there is being fairly used; see nobody even looks at the people who use copyrighted works for fair use, I mean we're just using a portion of their work; we're not stealing the entire song and/or movie and distributing it to others, we're just using bits and pieces of it in our work; and just what constitutes as copyright infringement, I mean with the entertainment industry then anything constitutes as copyright infringement, they can just decide to take down a site that's very important just because it has copyright infringing content when it actually has none at all; the power these industry giants have just scares me.

Introducing laws like this never work out because of the vague definition of what's copyright infringement and what's not; I mean why do we still have the EFF fighting the good cause, because everybody should have the right to do what we want with out content and not have to worry about censorship.

realneil 3 years ago

They're not making enough off of litigation, so they turn to legislation that whittles away at the rights of the population and allows them to arbitrarily punish people and organizations without the litigation normally required.

This just gives them the tools that they need to screw people without due process. It makes it easy for them to do.

I don't download anything that isn't mine, and I never buy music anymore. Pandora and XM Radio do well enough for me.

The music industry can kiss my Adz.

MMcCutcheon 3 years ago

exactly what omega said...i'll download games to try them..if i like them, i'll buy them..if they are crap (which is about 90% of games these days) i delete it.

RScala 3 years ago

So why must I be charged to further profits of big business? Why not charge these Multimedia Corporations a percentage to "protect" their assets....

omegadraco 3 years ago

@Rscala I agree this should be a business only tax... I almost see this minor tax as a punishment to all people because of a few that download copyrighted material.

FileSecurePro 3 years ago

I work with File Secure Pro, a service that helps protect online authors from intellectual property theft. This bill focuses on creating new tools for those who have ALREADY been victims of intellectual property theft.

As a business owner, if my company's trade secrets have been stolen, the damage has already been done. You cant un-ring the bell and in the time it would take me to seek a legal recourse (assuming I even can identify the thief), my IP could have been copied and downloaded millions of times by my competitors.

We need emphasis on PREVENTION of intellectual property theft.

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