Senator Wyden Come’s Out Against New PROTECT IP Bill

U.S Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) released the following statement against the new PROTECT IP 2011 bill we spoke about last week:

You may remember that Senator Wyden led the  opposition against the predecessor bill of Leahy, the COICA last year.

Here is the statement:

“I felt compelled to block senate action on COICA in December 2010 because it employed a “bunker buster” approach to a problem that could be solved with a “strategic guided missile.”  COICA’s at-all-costs approach to protecting intellectual property would have inflicted collateral damage on the foundations of the Internet, trampled free speech, stifled innovation and given license to foreign regimes to further censor the Internet for political and commercial purposes.  The costs far outweighed the benefits.

The Protect IP legislation addresses some of my objections and includes several of my suggestions, though it retains provisions – like interfering in the Domain Name System – that pose a significant threat to the Internet as we know it.  The legislation also puts forward several new provisions that would have serious ramifications for Internet speech and commerce.

Moreover, it is hard to consider legislation that would give the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security additional authorities to combat online content infringement when they refuse to answer basic questions regarding what they believe constitutes infringement.  While the departments finally responded to questions that I sent them more than three months ago, their responses reveal a single-minded determination to stamp out online infringement and demonstrate little if any understanding of the Internet’s value and function.

Particularly troubling is their refusal to explain how linking is different than free speech.  Given that hyperlinks in many ways form the foundation of the Internet, efforts to go after one site for linking to another site – which the Administration is currently doing and the Protect IP Act would expand on – threaten to do much more than protect IP.  There are many actions that we can all agree the Administration can and should be taking to crack down on counterfeiting of U.S. goods and the illegal sale of U.S. IP products that don’t involve advancing novel and unsupportable theories like holding sites liable for linking.

In the coming weeks, I intend to work with all concerned to further examine the legislation and gain a better understanding of its impact and to ultimately encourage Members of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to make the warranted improvements to the bill before it is reported to the full Senate for its consideration.   While I can’t support the Protect IP Act in its current form, I intend to reassess the merits of the PROTECT IP Act once the Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to modify it.”

 

Comments

  1. I'll die as a hardcore domainer ! says

    Thanks for your work Mike in posting this and your recommendations. I know it is a grand effort to stay on top of.

  2. Joe says

    People like Jeremy make me sigh… consider that ANY website that provides a link to a so-called “rogue website” can also be labelled illegal and be shut down or made inaccessible to American users without so much as a criminal trial. Think about what google, yahoo, and all other search engines provide as their main service: links to other websites. Google and the like would be forced to censor their search results heavily — just as is the case in China — as they are ultimately responsible for checking every single one of their links for copyright violations. Combine this with the lack of judicial review and there is nothing stopping a despotic department of homeland security task force from shutting down hundreds of inter-linking political activism and news websites all because one of them embedded a video that they didnt properly acquire rights to. This is a far more slippery slope than many people realize, but for those who understand the implications of a government that routinely censors mass channels of communication, this should be deeply troubling.

  3. James Madison says

    @joe,

    this is deeply troubling and going after search engines is exactly what they intend to do.

    censorship is never acceptable, even under any disguise.

  4. Jared Moen says

    I think senator Wyden is one of the best people on the senate right now. Leahy will be voted out next, hopefully Wyden can keep him from ruining the internet until then.

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