|For Immediate Release
January 19, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
OPEN Act Increases Bureaucracy, Won’t Stop IP Theft
Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released the following statement on the Wyden-Issa OPEN Act.
Chairman Smith: “Illegal counterfeiting and intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy $100 billion and thousands of jobs every year. The Wyden-Issa OPEN Act expands government, does not do enough to combat online piracy, and may make the problem worse. 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.
“Intellectual property rights were created by the Constitution and U.S. courts have long enforced those rights. Transferring IP cases from U.S. courts to the International Trade Commission (ITC) will dramatically increase bureaucracy for business owners, forcing them to hire D.C. lawyers instead of creating jobs.
“The Copyright Alliance agrees that the Wyden-Issa proposal harms efforts to combat online piracy, and may in fact make it harder to enforce IP rights. Meanwhile, the Stop Online Piracy Act protects American technology, products and jobs.
Bad for Small Business: “The OPEN Act makes the ITC a substitute for U.S. courts which have handled intellectual property cases since the founding of our country. Forcing individuals to come to Washington and hire expensive, specialized ITC lawyers, and argue their case before the ITC, means that only wealthy corporations will have the means to argue their claims. Under the Stop Online Piracy Act small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to protect their property and Constitutional rights by going to federal courts wherever they live.
Is Not Effective: “The Wyden-Issa bill narrows the definition of an illegal infringing site to such an extreme that it will be virtually meaningless and nearly impossible to prove. Under the OPEN Act, even sites like Pirate Bay that openly promote online piracy would only be held accountable if the owner or operator agrees to appear before the ITC and be bound by its judgment.
Wrong Place, Wrong Policy: “Specially trained IP attorneys who already handle these types of cases are located in 94 local districts across the U.S. Denying the federal judiciary a role, and moving these cases to the ITC is a waste of resources. ITC administrative law judges will not even be the ones handling these cases. They will instead be passed off to inexperienced “hearing officers” further expanding bureaucracy.
Politicizes Justice: “The Wyden-Issa bill gives total discretion to the President to override any decision in cases handled by the ITC. Sponsors of the OPEN Act allow a Presidential pardon to be used whenever politically beneficial, but are unwilling to trust the independent judiciary which has handled intellectual property enforcement for decades.
Excludes Search-Engines from Responsibility: “Google paid $500 million to settle a criminal investigation for promoting foreign illegal online pharmacies, possibly endangering Americans’ health. The OPEN Act excludes search engines like Google from responsibility when it comes to enforcement of IP rights, even when they knowingly profit by directing consumers to illegal websites.”