Leahy Schedules Hearing Examining Online Infringement

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011) – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing focused on online infringement on Wednesday, Feb. 16, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today.

“Online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American creators and producers billions of dollars each year, and cost American workers hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Leahy.  “Bipartisan legislation aimed at stopping this criminal activity received unanimous support in the Judiciary Committee last fall.  This hearing is another step in our efforts to determine how best to bolster tools to help law enforcement combat this illegal activity.”

The hearing is entitled “Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American Intellectual Property,” and will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16.  Last fall, Leahy teamed with other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to author the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which provides law enforcement with important resources to stop websites dedicated to online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods.  The illegal products offered through these websites, which are often foreign-owned and operated, range from new movie and music releases, to pharmaceuticals and consumer products. 

In June 2010, the Obama administration, under the direction of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, started the “Operation In Our Sites” initiative to target online counterfeiting and piracy.  Through its efforts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have closed dozens of websites dedicated to criminal counterfeiting.

“The Obama administration, DOJ, and ICE are committed to protecting American intellectual property, and the ‘Operation In Our Sites’ initiative has been successful in fighting online piracy and online sales of counterfeit goods,” Leahy said.  “Congress can take action to complement these efforts by passing legislation to curb online intellectual property theft.  This is neither a Republican nor a Democratic priority.  It is another essential part of our efforts to strengthen and protect our nation’s economy.”

Intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion every year, according to estimates, and result in the loss of thousands of jobs.  The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act received broad support from labor groups, anti-piracy advocates, the Newspaper Association of America, and others.  The legislation received unanimous support from the members of the Judiciary Committee.  Leahy has indicated he will introduce similar legislation again this Congress.

The hearing will be webcast live online.  A witness list will announced later this week.

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