As we mentioned last week Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa introduced an alternative bill to SOPA and Protect IP that would put the power of fighting so-called rogue web sites into the hands of the International Trade Commission. The OPEN Act (which stands for Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act) focuses on interrupting the flow of funds to web sites that are proven to be trafficking in counterfeit goods or copyright materials.
The OPEN Act would create an Internet piracy panel or court within the International Trade Commission that would deal with complaints from the Justice Department and rights holders. The ITC would investigate complaints from copyright holders and determine if the Web sites in dispute are "dedicated to infringing activity." If they find this to be the case, they can issue a cease-and-desist order. The Justice Department would then be able to "bring an action for injunctive relief." The Internet piracy court would be composed of judges appointed by the ITC who would be required to have "a minimum of 7 years of legal experience," who could only be removed from that position for "good cause."
The Oregon Democrat and California Republican hope that their legislation will provide technology companies and critics of entertainment industry-backed SOPA bill an alternative that they can get behind. The House of Representatives committee vote on SOPA is expected next week. An aide to Wyden told CNET that the proposal is still a discussion draft phase and represents a work in progress.
One of the things the sponsors of this bill are doing to make the bill transparent is putting it up on the web site KeepTheWebOpen.com for the public to examine. Their hope is that the public will examine it closely and offer suggestions on how to make it better.
There are groups that oppose the OPEN Act such as the RIAA and the MPAA, who really wanted the ability to block allegedly infringing sites in their toolbox. SOPA and Protect IP gave them those tools and more. The sponsors of the OPEN Act see those bills as an extreme overreach that asks too much of service providers.
More details on the OPEN Act are expected sometime this week.