Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011

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This post was first published on May 25, 2011.


This new act, known as the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property 2011, popularly known as PROTECT IP ACT, 2011, is an act which is going to succeed the previously existing act on internet censorship. The previously existing act is the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act”, popularly known as the COICA. The main of this act was to prevent copyright infringement on the internet. However, this bill was never passed by the Congress.


The new legislation, PROTECT IP ACT, 2011, is wider in scope than its predecessor. This act would allow the Judiciary to obtain orders from the court against sites infringing IPR and also, require third parties to “either prevent access to the internet site (in the case of an internet service provider or search engine), or cease doing business with the internet site (in the case of a payment processor or advertising network).” The bill is an attempt to deal with foreign sites which can be difficult for US enforcement to reach, even when those sites explicitly target US citizens.

Another important feature of this act is that it protects those firms which themselves are trying to prevent other entities from selling illegitimate pharmaceuticals online. The bill also encourages everyone including domain name registries, search engines, payment processors, and ad networks to cut off access to infringing sites that “endanger the public health”, i.e. contribute to infringing.



Firstly, this legislation includes a private right of action for intellectual property owners. The consequence of this is that the government as well as the owners of IPR can bring injunctions against websites involved in IPR infringing activities. Also, as an extension of this clause, court orders can be brought against those websites which are providing services to these sites.
Secondly, the act has been drafted to include additional categories of third-party providers who can be subjected to court orders. Under this act, “interactive computer services” and “servers of sponsored links” can be required to cease linking to particular websites. Though initially it was felt that only “search engines”, like Google or Bing would be affected by this legislation, the extended scope of this legislation affects all other websites including the most popular websites like Facebook and Twitter. It basically includes all other website which displays a URL in them.Thirdly, in case of non-domestic domains, i.e. those domains which are not located in the United States, a case of infringement of IPR, a court order can be issued only by the Attorney General but not by the private parties. The meaning of this would mean that an action to stop linking to other websites, by “interactive websites” can be brought by the Attorney General only against those domains which are non-domestic, i.e. are not located within the United States. Also, it means that such an action cannot be brought against domains which are not non-domestic, and it cannot be brought by private parties.Also, the new language no longer requires explicit action on the part of domain name registries and registrars, although it still reaches operators of non-authoritative domain name system servers. Because of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ongoing practice of seizing domain names by prevailing on registries and regi