Back in May, we wrote about MAFIAA Fire, a browser plug-in created by anonymous coders to counteract the government’s efforts to shut down copyright-infringing web sites by seizing the domain names.
As we mentioned at the time, the PROTECT IP Act currently pending in the Senate would give the government (and private parties, for that matter) enhanced tools to bring down foreign-hosted rogue sites.
Now the House has its own version of the legislation, dubbed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and it has a provision that appears to be directed squarely at MAFIAA Fire. The bill would empower the Attorney General to seek an injunction against anyone who provides a service or product designed to circumvent the government’s enforcement efforts, including domain name blocks. This, of course, is exactly what MAFIAA Fire does.
The most notable other change in the House bill is the addition of a notice-and-takedown procedure that would allow private plaintiffs to instruct payment processors and advertising services to cut off the revenue to alleged rogue sites without having to go to court first. This robust new tool is backed by a broad coalition of industries.
For further information about both bills, see http://www.fightonlinetheft.com, a web site set up by supporters. For an opposing view, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s comments on SOPA. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Wednesday, November 16. Check back soon for more updates on the bills’ progress.