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Klobuchar pushes for stronger online piracy laws

Washington, D.C. - At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for stronger laws that target websites that steal copyrighted material and sell it, costing American businesses and the economy up to $100 billion each year.

Many of these websites appear similar to legitimate sites, leaving consumers unaware that they are purchasing pirated intellectual property. Klobuchar questioned several business and industry leaders at the hearing about what tools are needed to combat online piracy so that businesses can focus their resources on creating new innovative products and economic growth.

"As a former prosecutor, I know how critical it is that laws keep pace with technological advances," Klobuchar said. "Intellectual property is vital to our nation's economy, and our businesses rely on trademark and copyright laws to protect innovative ideas and products from theft."

Many of these websites are operated offshore by international organized crime operations and use the profits to fund other illegal activities. Klobuchar pointed out that the current laws haven't kept up with technology, citing that it is currently a felony to sell counterfeit DVDs that together value over $2,500, but streaming those same movies over the Internet is only a misdemeanor.

Klobuchar last year cosponsored the bipartisan Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeit Act, a bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that would curtail the practice of selling copyrighted material online. She said the bill would:

--Give the Department of Justice the ability to take action against a domain name that is being used to traffic infringing material. The Department must publish notice of the action promptly and it would have to meet clear criteria that focus on the sites' substantial and repeated role in online piracy or counterfeiting.

--Provide safeguards allowing the domain name owner or site operator to petition the court to lift the order.

--Provide safeguards against abuse by allowing only the Justice Department to initiate an action, and by giving a federal court the final say about whether a particular site would be cut off from supportive services.