Having spoken out strongly against legislative proposals on Internet piracy that he says threaten the security and openness of the Internet, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) signed on as an original cosponsor to a sensible alternative bill introduced today. The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade, or OPEN ACT, would refer international copyright infringement to the International Trade Commission, allowing US funding sources, such as PayPal or VISA to be pulled from the worst copyright infringers.

We must act to use existing laws and organizations along with new marketing regimes to crack down on digital pirates while fully leveraging a growing market for online content,” said Langevin, co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

Instead of trying to mitigate security, economic, and Internet freedom concerns with broad, over-reaching technical solutions, I support proposals like this one that seek a middle ground for curbing online piracy while protecting American jobs and innovative technologies that have allowed us to remain the world leader online,” he added.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, officially introduced H.R. 3782, the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill delivers stronger intellectual property rights for American artists and innovators while protecting the open, accessible Internet Americans deserve.

This bipartisan, bicameral bill protects American artists and innovators through the International Trade Commission (ITC), by applying due process to investigate intellectual property infringement claims against foreign “rogue” websites and cuts off funding to sites found to be willfully and primarily trafficking infringed material. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has introduced the OPEN Act in the U.S. Senate.

Explaining his opposition to the previously introduced Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Langevin said, “the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), designed to prevent user access to websites that offer bootlegged material, would damage efforts to increase transparency and security online by allowing US government and content producers to filter the Internet, while placing difficult burdens on the infrastructure of cyberspace.

This approach is counter to our pursuit of openness online in places like Iran, North Korea, and China. Furthermore, nearly every major internet technology company is against this bill because it stifles the same open technological environment they used to develop the products we depend on every day.”

Issa and Wyden released the draft OPEN Act at www.KeepTheWebOpen.com last year, using the Madison platform to open up the legislative process to taxpayers for the first time. Since then, OPEN has received more than 150 substantive comments and crowdsourced suggested improvements, many of which were included in the formal bill introduction. To date, nearly 300,000 Americans have visited the website.

OPEN is a targeted, effective solution to the problem of foreign, rogue websites stealing from American artists and innovators,” said Issa.

The legislation is supported by original cosponsors Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).