Senator Wyden Says He'll Block COICA Censorship Bill

from the good-for-him dept

While all 19 Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move forward with the online censorship bill COICA, it’s nice to hear that at least one Senator, Ron Wyden, is speaking out against the bill and claiming he’ll block it.

“It seems to me the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act as written today, is the wrong medicine,” Wyden, the chairman of the Finance International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness Subcommittee, said during a hearing on international trade and the digital economy. “Deploying this statute to combat online copyright and infringement seems almost like a bunker buster cluster bomb when really what you need is a precision-guided missile.”

Wyden said that unless changes are made to the bill, introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to ensure it “no longer makes the global online marketplace more hazardous to consumers and American Internet companies, I’m going to do everything I can to take the necessary steps to stop it from passing the U.S. Senate.”

Who knows how much one guy can do against a bunch of (quite powerful) Senators, but hopefully this means that at least COICA will get serious scrutiny and hopefully it will make sure that the clear violations of the First Amendment are removed.

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Comments on “Senator Wyden Says He'll Block COICA Censorship Bill”

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167 Comments
John Paul Jones says:

Block it? LOL What, is he going to filibuster it? He can vote no if he wants.

Hey Mike, do you work for Google or a Google sponsored entity?

Everyone knows Google is getting wealthy on the backs of artists’ stolen content, so I’m curious: how much do they pay you to run all the “support piracy” propaganda here?

David Sanger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

John Paul.

Perhaps you can help me out here. Bob Pisano has said “They’re called rogue sites, and they exist for one purpose only: to make a profit using the Internet to distribute the stolen and counterfeited goods and ideas of others.”

Could you please clarify for me?

Do you think http://www.youtube.com is one of these “rogue sites” ? Yes or No

Do you think http://www.flickr.com is one of these “rogue sites” ? Yes or No

John Paul Jones says:

Re: Re: Re:

You Tube admitted they were guilty; they knew they recieved tons of hits from streaming unpaid for songs. After Viacom sued them, they started cleaning up their act. And they’ve done a great job. I have no problem with you tube.

I’m not personally familiar with a piracy problem on flickr. To me, it appears that it’s primarily used for people to show their photos. The photojournalism industry has had better success in managing piracy issues than the music industry, IMO.

The sites that are “dedicated to infinging” are pretty obvious. Pirate Bay, Demonoid, etc. The torrent sites where basically all you see is unauthorized content… It doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to know it when you see it.

David Sanger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well it is very helpful to be very specific here. Since you didn’t answer no, I take it that you want the entire blogspot.com domain to be subject to an in rem proceeding if COICA is passed.

Do correct me if I assumed wrongly.

So yes I have looked at blogspot. Here is a search for pages with U2 appearing in the URL in the blogspot domain http://j.mp/94kQF4 and here are the top ten pages (except the 2 non-band pages)

http://u2-tour.blogspot.com/

http://top10mp3download.blogspot.com/2009/03/magnificent-mp3-download-u2.html

http://u2-blog.blogspot.com/

http://me-and-u2.blogspot.com/

http://secretsun.blogspot.com/2009/02/u2-no-line-on-horus-zone.html

http://digitalmeltd0wn.blogspot.com/2007/12/negativland-u2.html

http://live-bootleg.blogspot.com/2007/02/u2-salome.html

http://joyofsox.blogspot.com/2009/04/offday-outtakes-u2-achtung-baby.html

I have looked at all these pages and they seem to be primarily fan pages discussing, advertising for or just enthusiastic about the band. I see several embedded Youtube videos, plenty of photos and a few lyrics. I could not find any way to play or download any music directly from the blogspot domain.

There were a couple of links to third party file sharing sites like sharebee from which I presume one could download a track (quite possibly infringing I guess)

Now this is where I see a problem.

Blogspot/Google is not hosting any infringing music it seems. Some fans may talk about the band and they may even include a link to a file sharing site. So what do you want Google to do? Do you want to make it illegal even to link to a filesharing site, even to talk about where someone can download music. This is where it comes closer to a free speech issue.

Perhaps a parallel for the drug world: right now it is illegal to sell pot. But it is not illegal to say, “you can get some from Harry” or “You can get pot down on East 14th Street” (whether that is even true or not). There’s a parallel here to forbidding links to “possibly” infringing sites. Do you want to make it illegal to say (point to a site) where perhaps some unlicensed content might be downloadable?

So how exactly is Google to know, let alone be responsible for, links to third party sites?

OK, well what about the images and videos they actually do host on blogspot. As you already acknowledged, DMCA takedowns can remove any copyrighted material on request from the owner. Is this not good enough?

You ask “Have you ever tried to file a DMCA notice? ” The answer is yes, and it was not difficult, nor have my requests ever been ignored. Now I suppose if you have 100,000 them you might think it difficult if you though it worth your while to issue that many.

So what could be the alternative? There are thousands of U2 photos and videos and lyrics just in the Google search you suggested.

What would you have Google/blogspot do?? How on earth could they possibly know whether an uploader has a license to use a given photo or video. Perhaps some are free publicity shots, Perhaps some are licensed from Getty Images. Google cannot possibly know.

I license stock photography as a business and believe me it is not possible for a third party to identify infringements; it is not publicly available information. Aside from the fact that there is an existing ?512 DMCA safe harbor, and aside from the complexities of fair use, the service provider, in this case Google/blogspot, simply is not in a position to know if a usage is infringing or not.

The suggestion that they monitor their user’s pages for infringing material thus is completely unfeasible.

Now Youtube is an interesting example because they do allow content providers the option to fingerprint their videos and have Youtube automatically monitor uploads and even block some uploads. Even so many providers actually opt to allow their content on Youtube and get the exposure and ad revenue.

So getting back to blogspot, Youtube videos are not a problem and the copyright owner can choose to deal with other content if they want through DMCA

You ask “is that acceptable as the status quo”.

Actually I think, yes.

Do I think it could be improved? yes, but not in the way you might expect.

In line with my comments above I do not believe it will ever be technologically feasible ro prevent all unauthorized use on the internet. What is the alternative? To take advantage of it. Here we have thousands of U2 fans eager to talk about the band and share their enthusiasm

Jeremy Williams, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Warner Bros. Entertainment. addressed this phenomenon in a panel presentation at Berkeley

link here http://www.law.berkeley.edu/7731.htm
audio here http://law.berkeley.edu/media/bclt/2010copyright/10-0345pm.mp3

and his observations were well summarized by Terry Hart of Copyhype here

http://www.copyhype.com/2010/11/drawing-distinctions

He suggests that companies like his should tolerate and support noncommercial uses ? even tolerate some commercial uses. This is the approach he has taken, giving the okay to fan sites even when they use incidental advertising to support the site but drawing the line at fan merchandising.

So how to improve on the status quo?

Seek ways to take advantage of all this free publicity and enthusiasm. See it as an opportunity, rather than a curse.

All of a sudden the world will look quite different, and quite a bit more promising.

(sorry for the long response, but there was a lot to cover)

Ccomp5950 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

And you don’t understand the way the Internet or a search engine works either.

You are driving down the road in an unfamiliar location. You want to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant and know which hotel in the area is best, also where is the local crack house?

You stop and ask someone who is knowledgeable of the area for directions, he points down the road and says the hotel is further down on the left. As for the crack house, he says he thinks you can get that at Joe’s up the road, seems to always be a bunch of cars that go there when he gets in from the Big City.

You drive there on your own.

The man you asked directions for plays the same role Google does, you are the one that make the active decision on where you want to go, he just was courteous and told you where it is and how best to get there. He has committed no crime. He is not liable for any crimes you commit while following the directions you asked for.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

google takes people to illegal sites.

Google does no such thing, and you know it.

The sites that pop up in search results are the most popular sites. If those sites are “illegal,” then it’s solely because people like the “illegal” sites better than the legitimate ones.

It’s the same thing Bing does, or Yahoo, or whatever other search engine is popular this week. Should we try to shut them down, too?

torment says:

Senatorial holds

Mike, individual Senators actually hold an awful lot of power within that chamber.

I would assume that this means Sen. Wyden is declaring his intent to place a hold on the legislation. Generally this is just known as a ‘hold’, but Senators can place anonymous or ‘secret’ holds as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_hold.

If he does place a hold on the legislation, that would require a cloture vote to decide whether the bill could be brought forth for voting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloture.

It would take 60 votes to override his hold given the current cloture rules, and it seems pretty unlikely that there would be the votes to do that. There’s also no real indication that the legislation would have the votes to even pass the Senate, let alone make it through the House as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who knows how much one guy can do against a bunch of (quite powerful) Senators, but hopefully this means that at least COICA will get serious scrutiny and hopefully it will make sure that the clear violations of the First Amendment are removed.

I love how you focus so much on what you claim are “clear violations of the First Amendment” for people who brought this on themselves, yet you have zero consideration for the copyright holders who are having their rights infringed through no fault of their own. Anything to spread your desperate pro-piracy agenda, right? Go Pirates!! Rah! Rah! Rah!

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“for people who brought this on themselves”

Interesting … people lose their rights before trial? I thought felons lost some of their rights only after convistion … go figure. Seems I should’ve paid more attention in class, because I’ve had this all wrong.

“who are having their rights infringed through no fault of their own”

Are you referring to Ma & Pa Kettle who do not own a computer but have received a threat letter demanding payment? Yeah, I didn’t think so. No – you are talking about the millionaires who are whining about the loss of a few dollars.

“Anything to spread your desperate pro-piracy agenda”

Who is desparate?

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Anything to spread your desperate pro-piracy agenda, right? Go Pirates!! Rah! Rah! Rah!

You do realize that the EU has a Pirate Party because of the sheer number of idiots willing to spew this same inane crap in legislative sessions, right?

Call an independent musician or the Creative Commons piracy if you must, but this only hastens the demise of the former middle-men overlords. What will you do when there is no longer an avenue to monetize spurious connections to 40 year old songs?

Rekrul says:

Who knows how much one guy can do against a bunch of (quite powerful) Senators, but hopefully this means that at least COICA will get serious scrutiny and hopefully it will make sure that the clear violations of the First Amendment are removed.

I don’t see what changes they could make to this bill to make it acceptable. I mean the very heart of the bill is to give the government the power to just declare web sites illegal and get them taken down, without any kind of legal conviction. Yes, a judge has to sign off on it before a site can be taken down, but I can’t see too many judges telling the government that they’re over-stepping their bounds and refusing to sign the orders.

The proposed changes to the bill are just minor tweaks to how the bill is enforced, they don’t alter the fact that this bill basically hands the US government a “kill switch” for any web site that it, or the copyright industry, doesn’t like.

If this passes, it’s going to be open-season on any web site that annoys the government or the copyright industry. I predict at least 100 take-down orders in the first week alone. Wikileaks will probably be one of the first to go.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes to all of the above.

Because you say so, and we should always believe what you say without evidence.

You keep talking like you’re some big music leader. You have nothing to back it up.

I’ve asked you to talk about what you’ve done for artists. They only thing you’ve done is tell one anecdotal story about a touring band that didn’t sell records. You blamed this on “piracy,” and not on the fact that they are horrible businessmen (due to taking your advice, I’m guessing).

The only thing you’ve ever done on here is spread lies about how anyone who is a copyright reformer is “pro-piracy,” how Google is “stealing” from artists, and insult musicians who are actually successful.

You have never, once, proposed a solution to anything. You have never discussed how artists can better make money. You have never shown any interest whatsoever in helping artists connect with fans. You have never said a single good thing about new music services, like Last.fm, Pandora, CDBaby, Tunecore, or eMusic.

You have done nothing but complain and insult.

So: If you say “yes,” provide something to back it up. Show us how you’ve ever done anything for artists – other than lose them money.

Until you do, we have no reason to think you’re anything other than a cowardly douchebag, who makes it his job to spread lies while refusing to identify himself.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I mean I just can’t buy your arguments if you never created anything and then had it stolen.”

I can see many flaws with his arguments, but I don’t believe lack of experience is one of them. If I was in the music business then I don’t think it would help my arguments one tiny bit, because they’re not based on my experience of the music business.

Of course, if he is making arguments supposedly backed by his own ‘insight’, then have at it.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Of course, if he is making arguments supposedly backed by his own ‘insight’, then have at it.

That’s not precisely true. Depending on whether he is a recording artist, a songwriter, a label executive, a manager, or simply a bystander, that may determine his bias, and how trustworthy he is as a witness. But his role in the music industry has no more bearing on objective facts than his role as a New Zealand sheep herder.

Of course, that’s all a moot point, since JPJ has never dealt in facts, only in insults.

Paul Alan Levy (profile) says:

What can one Senator do

“Who knows how much one guy can do against a bunch of (quite powerful) Senators,”

At this time of year, with a crammed up calendar and much to accomplish, the Senate leadership depends on its ability to move without objection. If Senator Wyden consistently objects to anything that moves this bill forward, he makes it harder for the est of the agenda to be accomplished, so the leadership is likely to drop the bill for now, unless they really decide they want to invest the resources to get THIS done instead of, say, dealing with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts or the START treat or don’t ask don’t tell.

Word that I get from the ABA IP Section is that the Chamber and the IP lobby will be pressing hard to get a vote. Stay tuned….

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: What can one Senator do

Word that I get from the ABA IP Section is that the Chamber and the IP lobby will be pressing hard to get a vote. Stay tuned….

Thanks for sharing here, Paul. Lots of us are keeping their channels fixed on this one… and of course the ACTA ruse on “discovery International”.

It is tragic that Senators don’t yet seem to see the great potential for harm the “remedy” has for all Internet commerce. Without a trusted gatekeeper, what are now globally shared technologies will fragment into national, regional and partisan solutions.

MatthiasF says:

Copyright law

Sorry to shoot holes in the theories of idiots, but the Copyright clause in Article 1 of the Constitution was a part of the original framework for the country.

The First Amendment is just that…AN AMENDMENT.

Therefore, the right of Copyright came BEFORE Free Speech in the Bill of Rights.

Take a damn civics course before spewing bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Copyright law

Sorry to shoot holes in the theories of idiots, but the Copyright clause in Article 1 of the Constitution was a part of the original framework for the country. The First Amendment is just that…AN AMENDMENT. Therefore, the right of Copyright came BEFORE Free Speech in the Bill of Rights. Take a damn civics course before spewing bullshit.

We’ve talked about that one before on techdirt. Despite Mike’s protestations otherwise, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment and the Copyright Clause (Art. I, section 8, clause 8) are to be construed in light of each other. Neither is superior to the other. They are equal.

MatthiasF says:

Re: Re: Copyright law

We’ve talked about that one before on techdirt. Despite Mike’s protestations otherwise, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment and the Copyright Clause (Art. I, section 8, clause 8) are to be construed in light of each other. Neither is superior to the other. They are equal.

And from where are you drawing this opinion? Some precedent, please.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Copyright law

And from where are you drawing this opinion? Some precedent, please.

Simple logic tells you that it’s true. If the First Amendment trumped copyright, then there would be no copyright as copyright limits speech.

The Court discusses the issue in several cases. You can start with Eldred v. Ashcroft: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=12147684852241107557

The Copyright Clause and First Amendment were adopted close in time. This proximity indicates that, in the Framers’ view, copyright’s limited monopolies are compatible with free speech principles. Indeed, copyright’s purpose is to promote the creation and publication of free expression. As Harper & Row observed: “[T]he Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression. By establishing a marketable right to the use of one’s expression, copyright supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.”

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Copyright law

If the First Amendment trumped copyright, then there would be no copyright as copyright limits speech.

So obviously fair use exists for no reason. Without fair use, copyright would be perfectly compatible with free speech, and requires no modification. Free speech is regularly cited as being needed to be held back by copyright because God forbid we have too much free speech.

Not to mention the part you quote is hardly accurate, Joe – proximity indicates nothing about the reasons that copyright was adapted, actual documents written by them do. Copyright was written granting certain economic conditions, and it’s copyright that must be balanced against free speech – never the other way around.

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Copyright law

Yet you don’t show that your view is held by the majority. You’ve referenced a quote that doesn’t go anywhere near what you claim it does – the only thing it references is the idea that copyright is compatible merely because it was created at a similar time, not because that was the actual founders view (hint – it wasn’t), nor does it show the founders arguing that monopolies like copyright should be considered equal to freedom of speech.

Good luck with proving a view that doesn’t exist, or is based on at least a gross misrepresentation of the founders views of copyright.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Copyright law

“Therefore, the right of Copyright came BEFORE Free Speech in the Bill of Rights.”

So according to that logic Article 1 of the constitution says all other persons are only 3/5ths of a vote. Since it is in the original framework and came before the 14th Amendment, minorities can no longer count as a full vote.

Wait … this might be good news. Now that I know that, I can finally tell my wife to stop watching Fox News since her vote doesn’t mean as much.

darryl says:

If you actually knew the history of copyright law you would know that it is, and has always been, considered a gov't privilege, not a right.

@Mike
Funny. If you actually knew the history of copyright law you would know that it is, and has always been, considered a gov’t privilege, not a right. The history of copyright law actually makes that quite clear.

C’mon, Mike. We’re still waiting. Show us where it says that copyright law does not create “rights.”

It should be so easy for you to do. Or is the fact that every single source of primary authority in U.S. law disagrees with you getting in the way?

We’re waiting, Mike. Enlighten us with your awesome knowledge. If I’m so clearly wrong, prove it.

Nice one AC,, I wonder did Mike ever provide the information you asked for.

So show us mike all you sources showing that it is a Government granted prividege, and not a right ??

I guess Mike you have not provided that information because if you studied copyright at all you would know you are lying.. But on the off chance you are right, show us..

Show us the proof, (he ask’s not ever expecting anything from Mike)..

Mike when you talk rubbish, and mike no logic, but when you expect people to believe you just because YOU said it, it must really hurt to have people questioning you, and when they ask for proof, that must really hurt..

How dare they not take Mike word and the ultimate truth..

So unless you can provide the proof, we just have to assume you lie.. it would be nice for you to clear your name and prove me wrong.. you can only do that by providing facts from someone else, ie independent proof, we’ve given up trying to believe what you say mike.

How does a senitor block a bill ? he can vote on a bill, yea, or no.. or he can probably abstain, but he cant block a bill Mike.

How up to date is your US politics knowledge ? again,, what is it you DO know about Mike?

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: If you actually knew the history of copyright law you would know that it is, and has always been, considered a gov't privilege, not a right.

You’re lying too. A Senator can hold a bill, and it takes a supermajority to pass the hold. Has done since the early 20th C.

Also, what you’re arguing is against the ideas of Benjamin Franklin and Nikolai Tesla. They seem like pretty smart guys, so that must mean they’re idiots too.

Nice try, but you fail at trolling. Again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Senate Legislative Process
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/common/briefing/Senate_legislative_process.htm

Senators can even place a “hold” on a measure or nomination, although this practice is not recognized in Senate rules. “Holds” are requests by senators to their party’s floor leader to object on their behalf to any request to consider a matter, at least until they have been consulted. The majority leader will usually not even request consent to consider a measure if there is a hold on it.

darryl says:

Still nothing,, to be expected :)

I wonder if you US legal experts will ever work out that the first amendment in relation to freedom of speech, relates to restrictions ON THE GOVERNMENT in their ability to censor and restrict speech critical of said government.

So if that is not clear enough, its a rule that says the government cannot tell you not to talk bad about the government.

It is not a government granted right for people to say anything they like, whenever they like, where ever they like.

So how does a rule that restricts the Government enable the government to enfore a copyright rule.

Answer: THEY CANT..

Freedom of the press does not mean you are allowed to print whatever you like, whenever you like.

Freedom of the press, means that the first amendment allows publishers to publish material critical of the Government.

It has no control on any subject matter that is not related to government issues.

Therefore, if you copyright harry potter book, then the US government, or free speech, or freedom of the press has nothing to do with what you publish.

All it means that if your harry potter book is critical of the US government they are not allowed to censore it on that basis.

Its your freaking constitution guys,, have you ever even actually read it ?

If so, read it again, you did not get it first time.

So Mike, the question remains, unanswered ofcourse, explain how free speech and the first amendment right to speak again the government, has anything to do with copyright law.

Copyright is recoginsed as property, and therefore would come under the 14th amendment about property, liberty….

But you see none of that Mike,

And ofcourse you cannot link copyright with the first amendment, because no link exists..

Or just tell us Mike, Fess up,, be honest, if you dont have a clue, its ok to admit it..

Sounds like im getting you a bit flustered Mike !!!!..

it does appear sadly, you’re knowledge of the law appears badly lacking.. Maybe you used the wrong testbank questions when in constution class.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Still nothing,, to be expected :)

“Copyright is recoginsed as property, and therefore would come under the 14th amendment about property, liberty….”
Well then it should be taxed accordingly as well.
Here in Canada, if you do not pay property tax for 3 years, your property will be seized. You see, you never actually own property, you just rent it as long as you pay the Governments rent.

Ryan Diederich says:

The way it is....

JPJ should realize several things when he defends his view.

Heres a good analogy: Anti-piracy and copyright law can be compared to slavery.

Its bad, just like slavery is bad.

Now, it might be socially and morally acceptable in the present, but not forever.

Theres no reason to even argue the subject. New legislation has gone against these abusive rules, and it will continue to do so until the people are content.

JPJ, regardless of your views, or the views of your constituents, times are changing.

I will ALWAYS “steal” the work of musicians, as long as they are backed by a large recording company, I will NEVER give them my money.

I will ALWAYS convince my friends to do the same. I sold bootleg CDs in middle school. I sell bootleg movies now. These companies will never get my money.

The artists however, will receive plenty of money. I will continue to buy their merchandise and go to concerts and events.

The most important thing is, if there is a HUGE group of people disobeying the law, it is the LAW, not the people, that comes into question.

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