Dear Mr. Scheer,
Thank you for contacting me about legislation to address online piracy. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue, and I want you to know that I am opposed to the current legislation.
The global reach of the Internet has provided Americans with dramatic opportunities to access and share information. It has also created new challenges for managing intellectual property rights. Piracy of content and sales of counterfeit products cost millions of dollars in economic harm to U.S. companies and consumers. The U.S. Department of Justice has been aggressive in targeting domestic infringement, but current law does not provide a means to target foreign “rogue” websites, which sell products and content to U.S. consumers that infringe U.S. intellectual property rights.
There are currently two bills in Congress that attempt to address online piracy enforcement. In the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the PROTECT IP Act (S. 968) and in the House of Representatives, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261). Both bills raise serious concerns about unintended consequences for the Internet because they require Internet service providers, financial transaction providers, internet advertising services, and search providers to prevent or impede access to infringing websites accessed by users in the United States.
Many stakeholders have expressed concerns about PIPA and SOPA and how best to curtail Internet piracy. On January 20, 2012, Senate leaders announced that a vote on PIPA had been postponed. I am hopeful that given additional time, we can reach a solution that better protects intellectual property rights without fundamentally changing the Internet. I will continue to encourage both sides of this issue to reach a compromise.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator