Senate Committee approves PROTECT IP bill

As expected, US politicians have unanimously approved a bill which will allow US law enforcement agencies to block access to or shut down web sites accused of infringing copyright.

Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, better known as PROTECT IP, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now needs only to get the nod from the full Senate before becoming law.

The sweeping powers will allow the Department of Justice to force ISPs to block traffic to US and foreign web sites calimed to be involved in piracy or flogging moody goods.

The bill will also allow those who advertise on targeted sites, and companies who facilitate payments through online billing, to be prosecuted for their involvement. It's not quite clear who will pay for the additional cost of every credit card company and e-commerce outfit to check what every web site on the planet is flogging to its customers, but as long as the record and movie industries aren't losing any money no-one seems to care.

The bill would work from a list of blacklisted sites, no doubt provided by Big Media lobbyists.

It will almost certainly do nothing to prevent unauthorised distribution of copyrighted material, will lead to thousands of costly and frivolous lawsuits, and could seriously affect the free operation of the Internet, according to online rights groups.