ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

April 1, 2011 -

Ars Technica offers a sit-down interview with Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). He is also a co-author of a2009 paper on Internet piracy, which was influential on the development and adoption of the U.S. government's Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) legislation.

In the interview, Castro says that the United States government needs to blacklist and censor web sites that traffic in pirated and counterfeit goods. Further, U.S. credit card companies would be "forbidden" from doing business with any of these blacklisted sites and U.S. advertising networks would not be allowed to advertise in these places.

Here is a choice quote about why COICA is the right way to deal with piracy:

Castro: If you accept the fact that piracy is a problem, government needs to do something. You have to start from that premise. So if you accept that premise, the question is what's the most effective way of reducing infringement?

The problem we have right now is that there's different types of actors: domestic [pirate] sites, foreign sites, domestic consumers, foreign consumers. You have different strategies for dealing with each of these groups. For domestic sites, you can do things like taking down sites very easily. For foreign sites, you can't do that. The question is, are there other options? Of course there are. You can block sites, for example, at the DNS level. Or you can get everyone who's involved in the Internet, the different intermediaries, to come together and find ways to combat piracy, and that's what COICA is about.

Another quote points out the whole issue of due process:

Ars: I was speaking with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) about this several weeks ago, and she was very sharp on the “due process” issue. She argued that what was going on with ICE takedowns right now were a travesty of justice and probably illegal, in part because of the seize-first-ask-questions-later approach. But it sounds like you're more open to notification and a chance to respond before some of this blacklisting takes effect.

Castro: Sure. I think there's a couple things to keep in mind. You might want to act so swiftly on some sites that you don't notify them. For example, a site like WatchSeason5Episode2ofDexter.tv, which appears right after the show airs. A reasonable process would say that someone in law enforcement can look at the site, talk to the content owner, and agree that it is an infringing site. Maybe they can take that one down in real-time.

Something else that may be a little more ambiguous might have a 72-hour notice, where the site could come back and possibly provide evidence that what happened was incorrect. Remember, of all the sites that ICE has taken down so far, no one has come back and said, "I really wasn't an infringing site," with that one exception.

Ars: Sure, but isn't that a bit like saying, "We took down all of these allegedly infringing sites and none of the foreign operators behind them hired an expensive US lawyer to get their domain name back, so they must agree with what we did"?

Castro: If my site was taken down illegally by the federal government, I would complain very loudly. And we haven't heard that from the ones who were taken down. I think they know they were engaging in illegal activity, and some people have said they've stopped.

You can read the entire interview here. It offers glimpse of how the U.S. government feels about dealing with piracy and none of it is sugar coated.


Comments

Re: ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online ...

I take issue with his attitude towards his ideal approach. It seems to me he's saying the equivalent of "It doesn't matter that these people are denied due process, because they were doing something illegal anyway."

Re: ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online ...

Pirates: Make 'em all walk the plank. Yaaarrrr.

"Power means nothing without honor and pride."

http://grifsgamereviews.blogspot.com My video game review site.

Re: ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online ...

Modern government...pretending to govern since....the 50s?


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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Re: ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online ...

To the best of my knowledge, the government hasn't actually taken any sites down, just domains.  The sites are still there.

Yet another anti-piracy campaign that doesn't actually DO anything.

Re: ITIF's Daniel Castro on the Combating Online ...

I heard the IP addresses still work!

-Greevar

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