The Protect IP Act (PIPA) & Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

Status: The Protect IP Act (PIPA) introduced in 2011 was a rewrite of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).  COICA was introduced on November 18, 2010 but was not enacted. 

This is one of those cases where the tangled web of Internet regulations gets really tangled. Although the Protect IP Act is usually associated with SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, it is actually a rewrite of COICA. The “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (S. 3804) was introduced by Sen. Patrick Lehay (D-VT) on  September 20, 2010, was reported  by the Senate Judiciary committee on November 18, 2010 and was not enacted. (govtrack.us, S. 3804)

Now comes PIPA, the a rewrite of COICA  also introduced by Lehay in 2011. (BBC News, 2011)

COICA was intended to amend the federal criminal code to hold a domain name on an Internet site liable for copyright violations. According to a Library of Congress summary the act would have defined an Internet site that infringes on copyrights “…a site that is:

  1. subject to forfeiture;
  2. designed primarily to offer goods or services in violation of federal copyright law; or
  3. selling or promoting counterfeit goods or services.”

It would authorize a court to issue a temporary restraining order, or injunction against the domain name. The Electronic Frontier Foundation saw this act as an attack on domain names. In an update of COICA, EFF wrote, “…COICA gives the government dramatic new copyright enforcement powers, in particular the ability to make entire websites disappear from the Internet if infringement, or even links to infringement, are deemed to be “central” to the purpose of the site.” COICA was not enacted so PIPA was apparently a “try again” attempt to control copyright violations.

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