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Lofgren crowdsources domain-name seizure bill

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, is crowdsourcing a plan for a bill regarding domain-name seizures for copyright infringement.

The forthcoming bill is a reaction to concerns over “Operation in Our Sites,” a program by the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting websites that distribute counterfeit and pirated items.

Lofgren, who serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, issued this statement today:

“During SOPA I saw firsthand the Reddit community’s strong dedication to free expression. Because of that dedication, I thought I would attempt an experiment: crowdsourcing a legislative proposal on Reddit. The goal of the legislation would be to build due process requirements into domain name seizures for copyright infringement. I’d like your thoughts on the proposal.

“Although I am considering introducing a bill on domain name seizures for infringement, that does not mean I accept the practice as legal or Constitutional. Nonetheless, since these seizure actions are occurring, I thought it worthwhile to explore a legislative means providing appropriate protections for free expression and due process. While I promise to carefully consider all recommendations, I can’t, of course, promise that every suggestion can be incorporated into a bill I’d introduce.

“The goal is to develop targeted legislation that requires the government to provide notice and an opportunity for website operators to defend themselves prior to seizing or redirecting their domain names. The focus would be on government domain name seizures based on accusations that a website facilitates copyright infringement and not, for example, accusations of obscenity or libel. Feedback and input should also take into account any legitimate concerns that notice or delay might reasonably lead to destruction of evidence, threats to the physical safety of an individual, or other unintended negative consequences.

“So, Internet policy experts and free speech warriors: How, specifically, would you suggest accomplishing these goals? I look forward to reading your thoughts and input!”

Click here to access Lofgren’s Reddit post and offer your suggestions.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.