Judiciary panel set to resume work on online piracy bill

The House Judiciary Committee is set to resume consideration on Friday of bipartisan legislation that would authorize new tools to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites.

A bipartisan group of committee members, including Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., have led a spirited effort to amend the bill to address what they say are key flaws that will harm innovation, free speech and the integrity and security of the Internet.

So far, opponents have made little headway in their efforts to make key changes to the bill. The committee dealt with about two dozen amendments on Thursday during a day-long markup that went well into the evening.

The bill "remains deeply flawed and it is unfortunate that its sponsors remain intent on pushing this bill through committee, and to the floor, without meaningfully acknowledging any of its very significant faults," NetCoalition Executive Director Markham Erickson said in a statement late Thursday. His group represents such companies as Amazon, eBay, Google and Yahoo, which along with many other tech companies oppose the Judiciary bill.

Supporters appear to have more than enough votes to move the bill out of committee based on the debate and roll call votes on critics' amendments. They say current U.S. laws cannot sufficiently reach pirates and counterfeiters who offer stolen and fake versions of U.S. products on foreign websites.

"Since the U.S. produces more intellectual property than any other country, our citizens have the most to lose if we fail to engage and implement meaningful solutions," Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the bill's author said Thursday.