Pinpointing some of the legislation that could gain traction in Congress.
This story first appeared in the January 3, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
• Anticounterfeit-piracy bill: Federal authorities are already seizing Web site domain names distributing counterfeit and pirated products, but bills in the House and Senate would give the U.S. Attorney General and rights holders that are victims of the infringement the authority to bring action against a “rogue site” if a court issues a “cease-and-desist” order. Rights holders and the government would also be authorized to serve that order on payment processors and online advertising networks. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has scheduled a cloture vote on a bill for Jan. 24 that will require at least 60 votes to advance for debate and a final vote.
• Web tax bill: A revised Senate measure would enable states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state merchants regardless of whether they have a physical presence in the state. The bill is backed by traditional retailers and has support from long-time opponent Amazon.com, which improves its chances.
• PNTR for Russia: Congress is expected to take up legislation granting permanent normal trade relations to Russia, a required step in order for U.S. companies to gain the full benefits of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
• China currency bill: Although the legislation’s prospects remain uncertain, it could gain momentum this year if China’s currency continues to fall against the dollar. The bill passed the Senate in October, but House leaders have refused to bring it to a vote, claiming it could spark a trade war with China. The bill would direct the Commerce Department to treat undervalued currency as an illegal export subsidy, which could lead to punitive tariffs on imports from China and other nonmarket economy countries.