Congress is moving forward with an anti-piracy Bill the day after it emerged that the first 36 minutes of the latest Harry Potter episode had leaked online on the eve of its release.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation today [18] to provide the Justice Department with new tools to crack down on the theft and distribution of illegal digital movies, television shows and other counterfeit material by rogue websites on the internet.

The MPAA, the Hollywood guilds and the Independent Film & Television Alliance have leant their support to the passage of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy.

The Act would grant the Department Of Justice an expedited process for cracking down on rogue websites and enable it to file civil action against suspected domain names.

“These rogue sites exist for one purpose only: to make a profit using the internet to distribute the stolen and counterfeited goods and ideas of others,” Bob Pisano, the MPAA’s president and interim CEO, said.

“The economic impact of these activities – millions of lost jobs and dollars – is profound. That’s why dozens of labor organisations and businesses groups have come together to support the bill approved today by the Judiciary Committee.

The American Federation Of Television And Radio Artists, Directors Guild Of America, International Alliance Of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists And Allied Crafts Of The United States, Its Territories and Canada and the Screen Actors Guild have also came out in support of the measure.

A joint statement read: “Our four guilds and unions commend the Senate Judiciary Committee for unanimously reporting S.3804, the Combating Online Infringement And Counterfeits Act, and recommending the bill for consideration and passage by the full Senate. The bill, introduced by Chairman Patrick Leahy together with a bipartisan group of seventeen senators, will give US law enforcement agencies more effective tools to fight the foreign profiteers who threaten our member’s livelihoods by trafficking in stolen content.”

The statement continued: “We believe today’s committee action is the first step in making it much more difficult for rogue site operators to run their sites with impunity. We will continue to wholeheartedly support efforts such as this legislation that protect our members’ unique and essential contributions to American culture.”

“This bill is important to the independent film and television industry, since it provides new tools with which the Department Of Justice can efficiently track and shut down websites devoted to offering unauthorised and illegal content,” IFTA president and CEO Jean M Prewitt said. “The senators are to be commended for today’s unanimous and bipartisan message that American innovation and creation will be protected so that further intellectual property can be financed, created and legitimately offered to the public.”

  • Warner Bros is conducting an investigation into how footage from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (pictured) was made available to download on file-sharing sites like and The studio issued a statement this week that read: “This constitutes a serious breach of copyright violation and theft of Warner Bros property. We are working actively to restrict and/or remove copies that may be available. Also, we are vigorously investigating this matter and will prosecute those involved to the full extent of the law.” The film opens around the world this weekend.