Proposed Illegal File-Sharing Bill on Hold

WASHINGTON — A proposed bill that would have given the Justice Department power to shut down illegal file-sharing websites has been put on hold at least for the time being.

The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act proposes to give the Justice Department the power to shut down sites it “deemed” to be trafficking in pirated films, software, music and other intellectual property created in the U.S.

However, efforts to push the bill through the Senate before Congress adjourned for the November elections proved unsuccessful and bill supporters must now wait until after election season.

The bill was supported by Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Republican committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch, who said in a statement, "The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will give the Department of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on these rogue websites regardless of whether the website's owner is located inside or outside of the U.S."

Opposition to the bill is quickly mounting as copyright infringement attorneys, technology trade groups and others say the bill amounts to nothing more than censorship.

“It seems that this legislation risks giving the government broad censorship power,” Titan Media’s General Counsel Gill Sperlien told XBIZ.

“Certainly, I support any effort to delay action on the bill until there has been sufficient time for comment and investigation.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the failure to get the bill through the Senate a “victory.”

But the trade group said on its website that it realizes the bill will be back and