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Senate mulls bill to thwart Internet movie piracy

Cuffs around a keyboard symbolize Internet and online crime.

JEREMY HOBSON: To the box office now, where "The Hangover 2" kicked off the summer movie season with $118 million in domestic ticket sales so far. Add another $59 million in overseas sales, and there were probably some people who didn't pay anything, because they watched a pirated version of the movie.

Well, there's a bill in the Senate that would give the government more tools to stop that kind of thing. As Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.


JEFFINER COLLINS: The first "Hangover" brought in nearly half a billion dollars with lines like this:

MOVIE CLIP: Hey, guys are you ready to let the dogs out? What? You know like: Who let the dogs out? Who...

"The Hangover" was also among the top 10 most illegally downloaded movies. International piracy costs the entertainment industry $20 billion a year. Now, a Senate bill would let U.S. courts force U.S. internet companies to shut off access to foreign websites -- much faster.

MICHAEL O'LEARY: We're talking matter of hours, matter of days.

Michael O'Leary of the Motion Picture Association says that's critical.

O'LEARY: It's not uncommon at all to have hundreds of downloads within just hours.

But law professor Jack Lerner says some websites could be shut down unfairly.

JACK LERNER: There's a big question of false positives and we've already seen that with domain name seizures of domestic sites.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has signaled he may filibuster the bill. The House is looking at similar legislation.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

About the author

Jennifer Collins is a reporter for the Marketplace portfolio of programs. She is based in Los Angeles, where she covers media, retail, the entertainment industry and the West Coast.

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