Senator Wyden: I Will Do Everything In My Power To Block COICA

from the good-for-him dept

Senator Ron Wyden, who has been one of the few elected officials regularly standing up for consumers and citizens rather than just rolling over for what big companies want, has again made it clear that he’s immensely troubled both by Homeland Security’s domain seizures and the plans for a new COICA bill, which he states, flat out: “I will do everything in my power to block it.” He notes that others across the political spectrum are getting more interested in this issue, because “when government seizes private property without due process, you get a lot of folks across the political spectrum coming together.”

The interview linked above is really a worthwhile read, and shows a Senator who clearly understands the deeper issues here. He notes that Homeland Security has still not responded to his list of questions about the seizures, and he thinks that’s indicative of the fact that they haven’t really thought through what they’re doing, and how it conflicts with the First Amendment and due process.

He calls the whole thing “troubling,” in that attempts are being made to broaden such seizures without realizing where they fit legally, and how they might impact the internet and commercial activity. He quickly points out why those defending the domain seizures as being no different than other forms of property seizure are off the mark:

I think it’s important to make a distinction between counterfeit goods and copyright infringement. This is right at the heart of the debate. With respect to counterfeits, the bad guys are warehousing, advertising, they’re directly selling illicit merchandise, often to unsuspecting consumers. With respect to copyrights, what constitutes willful distribution or even infringement is still unsettled law.

In addition, with respect to the illegal production or distribution of tangible goods, the government has made it clear what’s legal and what’s not. So this is an area where you’ve got a pretty bright line; when you’re talking about counterfeits, you’ve got efforts that are reasonably targeted, people understand what the ground rules are, there’s a sense that you understand what law enforcement is doing with respect to key issues like due process. That is not the case today for copyright infringement.

That’s right at the heart of this debate. I mean, when you’re seizing tangible goods, you’re not undermining the pillars of the Internet as well.

He’s also troubled by Homeland Security’s expansive definition of criminal copyright infringement that appears to include merely linking to infringing content online. As Wyden notes, this seems contrary to what most experts believe, and he’s worried that ICE seems to be making up the law:

Most reasonable Internet experts are telling us that linking itself cannot be illegal–but we’ve still got ICE out there saying, “Let’s prosecute folks for linking.” That’s another issue that needs to be resolved.

There’s plenty more in the interview, and it’s great to see at least some key politicians honestly worried about domain seizures and COICA. It’s unfortunate that it’s still a small group of them, but we’re starting to hear rumblings that as other elected officials learn about the details of all this that they, too, are troubled by it. Even as the entertainment industry has been pushing very, very hard to rush COICA through (and some believe that the votes are almost already in place), there’s a chance to speak out now and stop the US government from expanding what it believes is its right to censor websites without due process and without regard to the First Amendment’s restriction on prior restraint.

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Comments on “Senator Wyden: I Will Do Everything In My Power To Block COICA”

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fogbugzd (profile) says:

A Bridge Too Far

I have had a feeling that the IP industry has been overreaching. The entertainment industry has come to feel that they can get anything they want with the Obama administration in office. They have been aided by the fact that most legislators have not taken the time to ask questions, and so they take the path of least resistance which is to just accept what they are being told by the industry.

However, COICA was asking too much for some people. The real significance is not just in blocking COICA. As the article says, it starts people thinking. The industry might not find it so easy to float its bogus statistics in the future if legislators get educated on COICA. Also, legislators don’t like being made fools of. And that is exactly what the industry has been doing by foisting off bogus claims and statistics to get them to pass pro-IP legislation.

There are also a lot of people in Congress who don’t want to be too associated with Obama. IP would be one area where Republicans could take delight in tweaking Obama’s nose, and where Democrats could demonstrate their independence. All it may take is a wakeup call named COICA.

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Re: Well if he wants to stop it...

They removed that ability in the ‘reforms’ the Senate adopted.

My cynical nature says the GOP abused the rules precisely so they could get things like this eliminated and then ram through whatever they want since no one would be able to stop it anymore. And I don’t mean now necessarily, thinking longer term to repeal damn near everything when they get the chance.

Mark says:

Re: Well if he wants to stop it...

While I like your thought process, in this case, I believe Wyden has the cajones to actually stand up and announce in front of the whole senate that he is responsible for the hold and why he is doing it. None of the sneakiness involved.

And while I would like to believe this, and respect Wyden for what he has been saying, he is a politician. Therefore, i take what he says with a small grain of salt (but larger than most politicians) till I actually see him block the bill (or it dies a early death before he can do that).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Well if he wants to stop it...

“Therefore, i take what he says with a small grain of salt (but larger than most politicians) till I actually see him block the bill (or it dies a early death before he can do that).”

He’s already blocked it once – the first time Leahy, Hatch, et al proposed last years version of this bill. If it wasn’t for him, COICA would probably already be law.

He’s got my respect today. Legislators like Wyden and Lofgren have helped the cause tremendously by adding credibility to a an issue that could otherwise be dismissed as a fringe point that matters only to a handful of computer nerds.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Notice that he seems perturbed that they haven’t come to talk to him about it yet.

Wouldn’t you be perturbed if a gov’t agency that you were in charge of oversight on was running roughshod over the Constitution, and you sent them some questions to answer and they ignored them?

I sense that Homeland Security may be facing quite a bit of a smackdown…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

On the contrary, I think you’ll find a great deal of concern here at Techdirt regarding those that abuse that bit of the constitution. The greatest danger has been the government running roughshod over it by:
a) Creating IP laws that hinder the progress of science and useful art.
b) Making terms so long that it makes a laughing stock of the “limited Times” phrase.
c) Granting executive trade negotiators and DHS the power to define US IP policy, instead of Congress.

PS – And yes, if you’ve been here any serious length of time, you’ll also find plenty of Techdirt articles strongly discouraging the breaking of copyright law by infringers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

There is usually one, and often numerous articles here every day that are snarky diatribes against the enforcement of copyright and copyright itself. Despite the fact that it was spelled out by the Constitutional framers as necessary, right along with coining money and maintaining a Navy.

I’ve never seen a single article here that complained about or offered a solution to the widespread infringement that exists. Even if I missed it, it would take hundreds to balance out the bias here.

Therefore, Mike Masnick is a gigantic hypocrite for complaining about things he sees as running roughshod over the Constituion.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

And yet, here you are. A lot fo the stories here are about abuse of copyright and patent laws as written right now. There are very few complete abolitionists here.

When human nature is outlawed, what do you expect people to do? Take it like a boy scout? Or fight back. You’re nothing but a hypocrite, by your own logic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

No, it’s not “merely a suggestion”. LOL

It wouldn’t have been there if that’s all it was. But no matter what you wish it meant, the words “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” is still there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

It is not promote progress and the arts. It is about promoting progress (a term that has a meaning and scope quite different that is frequently asserted here) of the sciences (to which copyright law pertains) and the useful arts (to which patent law pertains).

Importantly, this is not the only constitutional provision concerning a federal power that relates to so-called “IP”. A prime example is the Commerce Clause, which is used with respect to trademark law.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

Sorry, I don’t see the word ‘patent” there, and certainly not language exclusively to it.

I do see the words ‘arts’, ‘writings’ and ‘authors’ though..

This amuses me. I will merely note that the person you are replying to appears to be someone who regularly agrees with you and disagrees with me.

Separately, he is accurately stating the historical relevance of Section 1 Article 8. At the time it was written, “science” was about knowledge and learning and was meant to designate copyright and “useful arts” pertained to inventions and was meant to designate patent law.

It’s a reasonable discussion as to whether or not we wish to expand the meaning from what the Founders intended, but denying that’s what they intended suggests a level of historical ignorance.

Again, note that I almost always disagree with the person who pointed this out, and he almost always agrees with you. Yet, in this instance, he is entirely correct, and your response suggests a lack of knowledge on the subject.

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I’ve never seen a single article here that complained about or offered a solution to the widespread infringement that exists. Even if I missed it, it would take hundreds to balance out the bias here.

Therefore, Mike Masnick is a gigantic hypocrite for complaining about things he sees as running roughshod over the Constituion.

I’ve never seen you offer a counterpoint with backups from other sources either. So you’re a gigantic hypocrite. Also, sharing is one of the traits that sets us apart. The Arab scientists of the early 10th C. freely shared their works. Galileo and Da Vinci freely shared their works in order to promote scientific discussion. It is only since the late Renaissance era that copyright was even mentioned – The Statute of Anne is the first mentioning of copy’right’ in historical works.

The fact that a work produced today will not see the public domain until the late 21st Centtury is astonishing – D.A.R.Y.L, a work produced in the year of my birth, will not enter the public domain until after I die. Is that not even remotely absurd to you?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Stop and pay attention to who wants copyright “enforced” and why.

Now think about who is using other means to make money and how much they’re making with various methods.

Either you’re trying to be dubious in the argument, you haven’t read this site for long, or you are very affixed in saying that copyright pays the artists.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

you of all people have absolutely no standing to make the statement about talking out your ass about things you know nothing about as your twistedlogic arugment used in this thread clearly shows.

your claim of having checks proves absolutely nothing to anyone. even if you DID post every single one, its still anecdotal evidence at best.

not that you would even understand that concept to begin with.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Funny, infringers of copyright seem to be running roughshod over Article One of the Constitution, and there is never a peep out of you about that.

Hmm. This is factually incorrect. While infringers may be breaking the law, they are not violating the Constitution. The Constitution sets up the limits and rights of government. Only the government can violate the Constitution.

You’re a rather huge hypocrite, aren’t you?

Not at all. Why would you lie?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Nah, he’s probably a rabble rouser. Seems when asked the hard questions, he backs down to ask another roundabout question to instigate people. Just pat the troll on the head, smile and nod. He’s yet to really answer any questions when asked, just wanting to lash out for being cornered.

See that’s the thing about our pet trolls. Ya gotta give them a little room to breath. Sure you can yank their chain a little bit, but think about it. They just need a hug, along with the look that says “yeah, you’re funny, but I doubt anyone is taking you seriously.” 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You seem to be using that word quite a lot, I wonder if you truly understand what it means. I have yet to see Mike say one thing and then oppose himself in differing articles. It is my opinion that you should be sent a dictionary with “hypocrite” highlighted and a thesaurus also with “hypocrite” highlighted.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So because it’s a law specified by the Constitution, you’re not sweating it?

It’s not a law specified by the Constitution and you know that. The Constitution grants Congress *the right* to establish copyright law, which it did, if (and only if) it promotes the progress of science.

Congress is then free to do so, as it has (whether or not it actually promotes the progress of science does seem like an important, but tangential question).

Thus, violating copyright law is infringement and is against the law, but is most certainly not violating the Constitution. These are rather simple legal concepts.

You still seem like a rather huge hypocrite.

Only for those who willfully chose to put words in my mouth rather than listen to what I say.

But, we all know what anyone who does that is, according to you…

As well as something else…

Yes. Thanks for the compliment. I *am* rather happy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Seems you left part of it out:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

The Constitution spelled it out very clearly; along with things like coining money and maintaining a Navy.

Are you saying the Constitution was also only suggesting that our country have money and a navy?

Anonymous Coward says:


“Are you saying the Constitution was also only suggesting that our country have money and a navy?”

The constitution does not even go so far as to ‘suggest’ them. They are the extent of what congress is allowed do.
Let’s look at other examples in the enumerated powers that you seem to think are congressional duties:

Borrowing Money – Is it the duty of congress to go into debt?

Declaring war – Should we always be at war? Is it a duty or power?

Letters of Marque – Should their always be private boats licensed to attack and capture enemy vessels? Is congress derelict in its duties for not exercising this mandate since the 19th century?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Are you saying the Constitution was also only suggesting that our country have money and a navy?

Reading comprehension time. I did not say it was a “suggestion.” I said, accurately, that it is a power that is granted to the government. They do not need to exercise that power. So, yes, Congress need not set up a monetary system nor a Navy if chose not to do so.

Still, even with that, you’re arguing two separate things and I’m having trouble believing that you don’t understand this.

Whether or not Congress sets up a copyright system is one thing. It has the power, but not the requirement, to do so.

But that’s entirely separate from the blatantly false statement that you made, which is that someone violating the copyright law that Congress has set up is violating the Constitution. They are not. Only the government can violate the Constitution here. An individual can break the law, but that is not a Constitutional violation.

This is basic civics stuff…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Just for the sake of accuracy, no government, state or federal, is granted “rights”, but only “powers”, which “powers” they are authorized to exercise.

Under the US Constitution it is worthwhile to note that in many instances even though the federal government is granted a “power” under Article 1, Section 8, it does not necessarily follow that the states are foreclosed in all instances from concurrently exercizing a similar power. It is through the application of other constitutional doctrines that federal supremacy is established in those situations where Congress has chosen to act, and has done so in a manner that effectively preempts the right of states to enact counterpart legislation.

Of course, the relationship between state and federal powers is a subject of countless treatises overflowing in length and exorbitantly priced.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Maybe we should ask Senator Wyden if he agrees with this site’s owner that the Constitution didn’t grant copyright.

I did not say that. It’s funny, just the other day, I believe it was you who claimed that it is a “douchebag move” to put words in another’s mouth. Yet here you are saying that I said the Constitution didn’t grant copyright.

What I did say, and what is accurate, and you seem to not understand, is that violating copyright law is not a violation of the Constitution.

Separately, while I had not said it, it is entirely accurate that the Constitution does not grant copyright — and I’m quite sure that Senator Wyden would agree with me on that. The Constitution grants Congress the power to establish a copyright system. That is not the same thing as saying it grants copyrights.

If he’s going to be involved in Constitutional issues, his constituents need to have a clear answer on that from him.

Are you seriously challenging Senator Wyden’s knowledge of the Constitution when you seem to have so little grasp on it yourself?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Based upon my review of Senate committee assignments, it does not appear that Mr. Wyden “is in charge of oversight”.

I was not saying that Senator Wyden specifically was in charge of oversight of DHS. I was saying that *Congress* is in charge of oversight, and as Congress learns more about what DHS is doing, it is in line for a major smackdown.

Anonymous Coward says:

Article I?

Funny, infringers of copyright seem to be running roughshod over Article One of the Constitution, and there is never a peep out of you about that.

Article I does not grant any rights. The copyright and patent clause only grants Congress the power to pass legislation and opposition to a law against more effective enforcement is therefore not running roughshod over the constitution.
But of course, we don’t expect deeper comprehension of the legal issues from you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Article I?

I guess you missed the part that says “exclusive right“.

Article One laid out the duties for Congress in assembling our government. To coin money, to provide a Navy, etc. They weren’t optional.

What part of the Constitution is being run roughshod over in this upcoming bill that neither you, Mike Masnick or anyone else has seen yet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Article I?

Are you trying to suggest that Article One did not deem Copyright as necessary for our new government? That it was merely a suggestion? Do you have a Constitutional scholar that agrees with you?

If not, then ipso facto, copyright infringers are running roughshod over the Constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Article I?

No, it’s not “merely a suggestion”. LOL

It wouldn’t have been there if that’s all it was. But no matter what you wish it meant, the words “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries” is still there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

COICA has nothing even remotely to do with “theft.” Neither does it have anything to do with “artists.” It has to do with censoring websites that are deemed to be engaging in copyright infringement, although that definition is far from clear-cut and the method for establishing this label lacks due process for the accused.

And for the millionth time, copyright infringement is not the same as “theft.” They are totally different issues. The vast majority of copyright issues aren’t even criminal offenses, but civil ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Infringers of copyright run roughshod over what the Constitution specifies about creator’s rights.

Yet look at Masnick’s articles on piracy events here. He craps his pants when a law might be passed to protect said creators.

And we’re supposed to take him seriously when he whines about other issues he deems unconstitutional? What a crock.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Says the AC that is spreading FUD…

” He craps his pants when a law might be passed to protect said creators.”

Artists don’t feel it hurts them financially in Dutchland

Since you have no reports running here, you really can’t speak for artists or creators.

There’s also this report that says that the supposed “protection” you’re looking for (ie enforcement) is ineffective at what basically amounts to a pricing problem.

But by all means, I would love to hear about any research that agrees with you be it government based, anecdotal, or actual research (hint, the piracy report that has just came out) that you will find an answer to your question.

Here’s a little more for ya, bucko. Moral rights and copyright don’t mix.

Enjoy your research.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Any time one of you is told that most posters here DO NOT engage in p2p or torrent, you just skim right over it and go right on claiming otherwise.

I can just picture your eyes glazing over, and then you slowly drawl “But they can’t get by without our CON-TENT. We are AR-TISTS.”

*Proudly free of all retail music since 2009.

velox says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Your fake indignation about copyright length was debunked long ago. … It’s a smokescreen; the stuff you guys rip off is usually less than a year or two old.”

Right, so you won’t mind if we put copyright length back to some reasonable number where the founding fathers had it —> 14 years?

Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who are not movie and music downloaders who think that IP law is out of control, and it isn’t being used in a way that promotes its original purpose.

Explain to me again about how guaranteed royalties that extend through my entire life, and on into my great-grandchildren’s life inspire me to work longer. Once I’ve become comfortable, then I’m not going to be motivated — period.
You know that, and anyone who has observed human nature knows that.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And you wonder why some people refer to you as a troll. We prove you completely and totally wrong on your Constitutional arguments… and rather than respond, you just pop up with some other incorrect point.

Why is Senator Wyden worried about FOREIGN websites? Especially when they’re leeching off American IP and resulting in fewer sales of American IP IN America?

That’s not what his concern is and you know it. But, are you honestly suggesting that the US should be able to censor any non-American website at will? After all, why is anyone concerned about foreign websites at all?

The point that he’s making — as he clearly states, though it seems you chose not to read — is that his concern is for the process and the likely impact of COICA/domain seizures.

And, we should be concerned about the US censoring foreign websites, because if you don’t think there would be retaliation that would harm US companies, you’re not very clued in on how these things work.

Finally, the point he is making is that, as written, the rules go way beyond the people you complain about, and would do very little to help you and your friends.

We know the freetards like to claim their are no lost sales to piracy, but we also know that some people believe in the Easter Bunny..

Again, this is why people call you a troll. You keep making this claim, and we have responded to it many times, pointing out that’s not what we said at all. We point out that yes, if you are stupid and do absolutely nothing to adapt to the market, then, yes, file sharing will likely make life difficult on you .

However, if you adapt to the market, as many have, it appears that the issue is not file sharing, but merely a business model issue.

Why you continue to lie… well, I guess that’s obvious from the fact that you completely ignored everyone pretty much owning your ignorant statements above and making you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about.

How about you go focus on your music, and let the adults here discuss economics and the law?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ha! So, first I call you out for changing the subject after everyone debunked your ignorant and blatantly wrong statements… and your response is an ad hominem attack on me?

Yeah. That’s convincing lots of people.

But, to answer your questions:

Tell me Mike, why have you decided to devote your adult life to being a spin-doctor for piracy?

You know you’re not fooling anyone, right?

As you well know, I am not in support of “piracy.” I have explained this to you many times. I am helping *smart* content creators make more money. I don’t know why you’re so threatened by the fact that I help others make money.

It’s rather sick, don’t you think? You want that to be your legacy in life? Sorry, but that’s seriously fucked up.

The only thing sick is your hatred for me helping artists, while you sit and whine that the government won’t hand you money.

It’s time to join the real world. I’m not saying that piracy is okay at all. I’m saying that there’s a ton of money to be made if you weren’t so shortsighted. I’ve offered in the past to help you for free, and you called me a douchebag.

Who’s the sick one here?

Chilly8 says:

The domain seizures related to the recent arrests of poker site operators show why DNS blocking and/or domain seizures will never work.

All the poker sites whose domain names were seized were all back online within a day, with new domain names.

That shows why COICA will never work. Anyone whose domain name is seized or blocked will be back online with a new doain name within a day.

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