Californian Representative, Republican Darrell Issa introduced the OPEN Act in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, claiming it can deliver stronger intellectual property rights for Americans while maintaining the openness of the internet. Issa has provided full details of the bill on his website, KeepTheWebOpen.
OPEN, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, will provide oversight to the International Trade Commission instead of the Justice Department. Its purpose will be to oversee those foreign websites that stubbornly promote copyright violation, and that too, following a proper notification and appeal process. In contrast, the SOPA and PIPA give authority to the American government to right away takedown the entire site that contains even a single page of infringed material. Moreover, SOPA imposes sanctions before the website owner is even convicted.
The OPEN Act has gained strong support from many websites including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit and Wikipedia. OPEN also differs from the other two bills on the premise that which government agency should be responsible for fighting online piracy. The OPEN Act will give power to the International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop infringement of copyrights instead of the US attorney general.
On his website, Issa explains, “If the ITC investigation finds that a foreign registered website is ‘primarily’ and ‘willfully’ infringing on the IP rights of a U.S. rights holder, the commission would issue a cease and desist order that would compel payment processors (like Visa and PayPal) and online advertising providers to cease doing business with the foreign site in question. This would cut off financial incentives for this illegal activity and deter these unfair imports from reaching the U.S. market.”
However, supporters of SOPA and PIPA complain that the bill does not do justice to the artists who no longer have control over their own content worth billions of dollars. “The OPEN Act creates loopholes that make the Internet even more open to foreign thieves that steal America’s technology and IP without protecting U.S. businesses and consumers. It amounts to a safe harbor for foreign criminals who steal American technology, products and intellectual property,” said the SOPA architect, Rep. Lamar Smith.
Although the OPEN Act was first introduced by Ron Wyden last month, little support prevented it from going too far. Now with the ongoing protests over SOPA and PIPA, Issa and Wyden hope that the bill will ultimately find its way into the American legislation.