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Politicians reveal infringement, counterfeits act

Targets rogue websites that look like legitimate content sites

NEW YORK -- A group of politicians from both parties on Monday unveiled the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," which is designed to help combat the theft and distribution of illegal digital movies and TV shows on the Internet and which earned positive reviews from industry organizations.

It particularly targets so-called rogue websites that often look like legitimate content sites and are based offshore.

The bill was introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and senior Republican member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and co-sponsored by committee members Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Senators Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) are also co-sponsors.

"We're very pleased to join a great number of creators and workers from throughout the motion picture and television industry in support today of this important legislation to combat efforts to steal the lifeblood of one of our nation's most important industries," said MPAA president and interim CEO Bob Pisano.

More than 2.4 million people in all 50 states of the U.S. depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs, Pisano highlighted, adding: "Unfortunately, this means nothing to the operators of rogue websites who seek to benefit illegally from the hard work of others."

These sites are increasingly sophisticated and often take on many attributes of legitimate content delivery sites, according to the MPAA. "They use credit card companies to facilitate payments, include advertising to earn money and provide so-called reward programs for frequent purchasers," Pisano explained.

Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said: "Businesses hiding offshore are generating large profits from global theft of intellectual property in digital form, threatening our nation's prosperity and one of its most vital exports."

In the coming weeks, the MPAA looks forward to working with the bill sponsors "to help strengthen the bill, which we believe provides a major step forward in efforts to combat a growing threat," Pisano said.