You may remember that we reported on Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s opposition to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) back in April, and on Oregon film & TV workers Rachel Lipsey and Aaron Ward’s video appeal to the Senator.
Last week a new bill aimed at curbing online piracy, the Protect IP Act, was passed unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Before it could receive a vote on the Senate floor, however, Wyden placed a hold on this new bill.
In a press release on Senator Wyden’s web site, Wyden said
“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…
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.” (Read the full press release…)
Matthew D. Loeb, international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sent us this message regarding Wyden’s hold:
“We are disappointed that Senator Wyden has used a petty political maneuver in an attempt to derail a bill focused on foreign rogue websites that steal copyrighted content from US companies and cost tens of thousands of good middle-class American jobs every year. The Protect IP Act was voted unanimously out of committee and is co-sponsored by a dozen-and-a-half of the most distinguished members of the Senate. It’s one thing to oppose a bill, debate it vigorously and vote against it. But it’s another thing entirely to resort to a cheap parlor trick, to thwart the opportunity to debate and discuss the merits of a proposed law. We’re frankly baffled that Senator Wyden would pervert the democratic process like this, particularly knowing that his own constituents in Oregon working on “Leverage,” “Portlandia” and other shows are being victimized by rogue sites. This bill will also combat bogus medications and counterfeit auto parts from being unleashed on unsuspecting American consumers. Senator Wyden ought not to be playing political games with a bill with such widespread consumer safety and jobs implications.”