SOPA is back from the dead

zombieAmericans who believed that they managed to kill off the SOPA anti-piracy bill with a little thing called democracy might be disappointed to know that the legal system is about to bring it in anyway.

The US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect Operating against the International Trade Commission. It could give a federal agency the power to force ISPs to block websites which would by rights give Big Content the power to shut down any website it likes.

It was one of the provisions of the SOPA bill and apparently the Motion Picture Association of America never gave up on it.

SOPA as originally introduced included a provision allowing the Department of Justice to obtain court orders requiring ISPs to block their customers from accessing foreign websites deemed to be pirate sites.

A leaked MPAA memo suggests Big Content would seek to obtain the same sorts of orders against ISPs, simply using the International Trade Commission rather than the DOJ.”

The ClearCorrect case is about a 3D printing model file for invisible braces. ClearCorrect had a subsidiary in Pakistan create 3D models of braces, which it then sent from Pakistan to the US over the internet. ClearCorrect then 3D printed the braces in its Texas offices, a move that might infringe Invisalign patents.

Align Technologies, the parent company of Invisalign, went to the International Trade Commission (ITC), a federal agency that deals with imports that allegedly infringe intellectual property rights, such as shipments of fake Louis Vuitton shoes or knock off pharmaceuticals.

Since no physical goods came over the US border and a digital file was transported over the internet. Last year, the ITC determined that it had the legal authority, under a tariff law from 1930, to stop the transmission of infringing digital files.

This means that Big Content can include digital files in any complaints and order any pirate site banned from the US.

If ClearCorrect loses at the Federal Circuit, intellectual property owners, given its speed and powerful remedies, and those with cases involving digital downloads will head to the ITC for their takedown notices.

The leaked MPAA memo from 2014 advises, “[S]eeking a site-blocking order in the ITC would appear to offer a number of advantages over federal court litigation, at least at first blush.”

Because the ITC is an agency, not a federal court, it has different procedural rules that could greatly benefit rights-holders.

The Federal Circuit will hear oral arguments in ClearCorrect on August 11.