White House unveils new initiatives to curb online piracy

The White House said Thursday it is expanding its efforts to combat infringement of copyrighted material online.
The White House said Thursday it is expanding its efforts to combat infringement of copyrighted material online.
(Jakub Mosur / Los Angeles Times)

The White House unveiled new antipiracy initiatives and is calling for more cooperation in the fight against intellectual property theft from search engines, data storage services and domain name registrars.

The initiatives are an expansion of the Obama administration’s 3-year-old program aimed at curbing piracy of movies, TV shows, music and other copyright materials.

The White House will also seek greater cooperation from other countries where piracy is rampant.

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U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel said the administration needs to be more “thoughtful and forceful” when it comes to cracking down on piracy. Known as the “IP czar,” Espinel said, “We want to make piracy and counterfeiting online less attractive of a business.”

The report expands calls on third parties to take steps to reduce infringement online and in the regular marketplace. Espinel said she will reach out to the Internet companies.

Rights-holders and content creators have long called for tougher regulation of infringement online.

“We applaud the strong leadership coming out of the White House to assure that American ingenuity and innovation generate jobs in the U.S., not profits for organized criminal activities stealing our intellectual property,” said Rick Cotton, executive vice president and general counsel for NBCUniversal.

Rampant online piracy has been a scourge of the independent film industry, which praised the administration’s efforts.

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“We are especially encouraged by the call for further voluntary industry understandings and standards, which have emerged as a promising method to enhance the integrity of the online marketplace for copyrighted content,” said Jean Prewitt, president of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, a trade group that represents independent production and distribution companies.

The White House report touted progress in getting many third parties to agree to such best practices. For example, Internet service providers have agreed to notify Web subscribers when their accounts appear to have been used for online piracy.


Payment services including American Express, Discover, MasterCard, PayPal and Visa have also agreed to step up antipiracy efforts, the report said.

Rights-holder groups have called for more pressure to be put on search engines and other Internet companies to curb piracy.

“The White House appropriately recognizes that search engines need to be part of that conversation,” Cary Sherman, chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Assn. of America, said in a statement. “But the continuing prominence of rogue websites in the first page of results shows that this continues to be a real problem.”

The 2008 antipiracy law, called the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, created the position of the intellectual property enforcement coordinator.



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