While You Are Watching SOPA, Leahy Presses On With Protect IP (PIPA)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, (D-Vermont) the leading sponsor of “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011″ otherwise known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) said today that he will study the issue of the domain name blocking while pressing ahead with the rest of the Bill.

It doesn’t sound like the Senator is dropping the domain blocking provision but recognizes it is a hugely complicated issues which has many groups concerned and would delay the Bill and possibly kill it altogether.

Of course once the “study” is completed the Senator may want it back in the bill.

PIPA would still authorize copyright and trademark owners to file suit and obtain expedited termination of payment and ad services to any website falling under the bill’s extremely broad definition of   “a website dedicated to infringement”.

Here is the statement of the Senator:

“The PROTECT IP Act provides new tools for law enforcement to combat rogue websites that operate outside our borders but target American consumers with stolen American property and counterfeits.”

“One of those tools enables law enforcement to secure a court order asking Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to use the Domain Name System to prevent consumer access to foreign rogue websites.  This provision was drafted in response to concerns that law enforcement has remedies it can take against domestic websites, but does not currently have the power to stop foreign rogue websites.  I worked closely with the ISPs in drafting this provision to ensure they were comfortable with how it would work, and I appreciate their support.

“The process in drafting the legislation has always been an open one in which we have heard from all third parties, and have worked to address as many outstanding concerns as possible.  It is through this process that we have gained the support of the majority of third parties who will be asked to take action under the legislation, as well as a bipartisan group of 40 cosponsors in the Senate.

“It is also through this process that I and the bill’s cosponsors have continued to hear concerns about the Domain Name provision from engineers, human rights groups, and others.  I have also heard from a number of Vermonters on this important issue.  I remain confident that the ISPs – including the cable industry, which is the largest association of ISPs – would not support the legislation if its enactment created the problems that opponents of this provision suggest.

“Nonetheless, this is in fact a highly technical issue, and I am prepared to recommend we give it more study before implementing it.”

“As I prepare a managers’ amendment to be considered during the floor debate, I will therefore propose that the positive and negative effects of this provision be studied before implemented, so that we can focus on the other important provisions in this bill, which are essential to protecting American intellectual property online, and the American jobs that are tied to intellectual property.  I regret that law enforcement will not have this remedy available to it when websites operating overseas are stealing American property, threatening the safety and security of American consumers.  However, the bill remains a strong and balanced approach to protecting intellectual property through a no-fault, no-liability system that leverages the most relevant players in the Internet ecosystem.”


  1. NO sopa says

    In human history – all things that were considered “sane” were used and abused by insane people. And yes, you are right – the most “sane” choice is to have each and every our step controlled by byometric devices and obscure laws then it will keep us out of troubles and out of freedom as well…

  2. Philip Corwin says

    This looks like nothing but a tactical feint to try to undercut the anticipated filibuster of the bill by Sen. Wyden and others. Overall, it probably reflects concern that the filibuster will succeed and that Majority Leader Reid will pull the bill off the Senate floor after several days of gridlock.

    Based on what he says, it appears that the domain blocking provisions will still be in the Managers Amendment but will be subject to some type of study before they can be implemented. But even if the domain blocking provisions were excised from the bill, or never implemented as a result of the study ( a doubtful proposition), PIPA would still authorize copyright and trademark owners to file suit and obtain expedited termination of payment and ad services to any website falling under the bill’s extremely broad and amorphous definition of website dedicated ton infringement. While ICA will need to review the Amendment when it becomes available, the statement provides no basis for believing that opposition to the legislation should be dropped.

    Also, while Chairman Leahy states that “The process in drafting the legislation has always been an open one” we know for a fact that this has not been the case – and one question that might immediately be raised is what input bill opponents are having into the drafting of the Managers’ Amendment – my guess would be little to none.

    Right now PIPA is more dangerous to the domain industry than SOPA — because SOPA has been narrowed to cover only foreign websites, while PIPA still encompasses domestic websites as well, which includes all .com and .net addresses under the bill’s definition section.

    Senator Leahy’s statement indicates that opposition to PIPA and SOPA is starting to outweigh its support — now is no time to pull back because of a minor concession that appears to do little to alter the overall substance of an overreaching legislative proposal that will cause permanent damage to the Internet and innovation.

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