Sequel To COICA Bill, The PROTECT IP Act, May Be Even Worse

The COICA bill, a piece of legislation that would eliminate a good deal of due process and free speech guarantees on the internet, is being succeeded by a new bill, the PROTECT IP Act. And yes, that’s an acronym. It stands for “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property” — the most transparent attempt to whitewash a bill I’ve seen since PATRIOT.

The act itself, rather than responding to concerns that it placed too much burden on the accused and added easily abusable controls on internet content, goes even further in allowing instant lockdown of “infringing” sites. Part of that is the ability of not just the government, but private entities such as rightsholders, to directly accuse a site and get it taken down with nothing more than a court’s approval.

Even in a perfect world (such as the one obviously envisioned by this bill’s creators), there would be problems. The fact that a private rightsholder can bring an action against a site via a court, and the injunction can be issued without any notification of the site is extremely disturbing. It’s very much a shoot first, ask question later type setup, which is harmful everywhere, especially where there should be a presumption of innocence.

It also requires that search engines censor their results, something I seriously doubt is going to happen in a hurry for every Joe Rightsholder who says this or that site is infringing their rights.

TechDirt has some more commentary, as well as the full text of the bill, if you’re interested. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this poor excuse for a law in the next few months. Copyright legislation is a real need, but this isn’t the right approach. This is legislation for the status quo, by the status quo, interested only in streamlining their legal process.