Patrick Leahy Still Doesn't Get It; Says Stopping PIPA Is A Victory For Thieves

from the time-to-educate-yourself dept

In a petulant, angry and totally uninformed rant, Senator Patrick Leahy whines about the vast majority of the public speaking out against his terrible Hollywood protectionism bill that attacked free speech, the internet and online security. He does so by, yet again. making things up. Let’s detail the problems with Leahy’s statement:

The United States Senate has identified a problem directly affecting American jobs, American workers and American consumers.

Actually, it has not. It has identified an issue — but it has not correctly diagnosed the real problem. It sees a symptom — infringement — and incorrectly assumes that the problem is lack of regulation or law enforcement. That’s wrong and there is no evidence to support those claims. Instead, the problem is the failure of some big industries to adapt with smarter business models. Instead, they’re focused on propping up artificial scarcity in a market where such scarcities don’t work. The end result is infringement — not because there’s a legal problem — but because there’s a service problem. The companies are not giving people what they want, in a format they want, in a convenient manner at a good price. When you understand that, the solutions become obvious. You don’t pass a new law — you have businesses adapt and innovate. And in that way, everyone wins.

As for the “jobs, workers and consumers,” again, there has been no credible evidence that any jobs are at risk. In fact, in looking at the data, it shows that jobs in making movies and in the overall entertainment field continue to rise at a healthy clip. Meanwhile, consumers are living in an astounding renaissance of content. More movies are being produced than ever before. More music. More books. More everything. That’s something we should be celebrating.

When I first came to Congress, it was the practice of the Senate to debate competing ideas to address such a problem; regrettably, that is not the practice today.

Exactly. Nowhere in any of this did Congress actually debate the problem as outline above. Instead, it simply took the language the MPAA gave them, rushed out a bill, held no hearings on it, did a seven-minute markup off the floor with no recording or discussion, and insisted the bill was perfect. To blame everyone else for the lack of debate here is obnoxious. Leahy has one person to blame for a lack of debate on PIPA: himself.

Furthermore, if he wanted debate, there was a ton of debate where he should have gone in the first place: online. The public (you know, the people Leahy is supposed to represent) were absolutely discussing it and debating it online. Leahy was free to join in. He did not. So, forgive me for saying that the suggestion that debate was somehow blocked here is absolutely ridiculous.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously reported the PROTECT IP Act in May.

Again, with no hearings, no debate, no discussion. It was a seven minute session that wasn’t recorded or available to the public. That’s a sign that the fix is in, not that the public is being represented.

Since then, I have worked with both Senators and stakeholders to identify concerns and find meaningful ways to address them.

No, you didn’t. That was seven or eight months ago, and no changes to the bill have been offered at all. In fact, when many in the tech community reached out to you, you ignored us and accused us of just representing Google. When many online users reached out to you, you ignored them. When tech experts complained about the security implications of the bill, you ignored them. We know you talked to stakeholders in Hollywood. But everyone else you kept out. The only time you finally admitted that you would be willing to change something was after the tide turned and after the White House told you that DNS blocking was unacceptable. If you were listening to concerns you would have offered a manager’s amendment months ago. You did not. You have not been working with any stakeholders other than Hollywood.

Only when the Senate considers this legislation can we do so.

Simply not true and you know it. Moving forward with a bad bill based on a bad premise and “fixing it later” is no way to legislate.

In the meantime, more time will pass with jobs lost and economies hurt by foreign criminals who are stealing American intellectual property, and selling it back to American consumers.

[citation needed]

I remain committed to addressing this problem; I hope other members of Congress won’t simply stand on hollow promises to find a way to eliminate online theft by foreign rogue websites, and will instead work with me to send a bill to the President’s desk this year.

Translation: PIPA will be back and it will be back soon, because I’m a stubborn, totally out of touch Senator who likes it when Hollywood puts me in movies.

Can Senator Leahy answer the simple question that has been asked of supporters of these bills time and time again: which sites are the problem? Which sites can’t be dealt with under existing legislation? What is the actual evidence of the problem?

I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid’s decision to seek consent to vitiate cloture on the motion to proceed to the PROTECT IP Act. But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem.

As opposed to a knee-jerk, uninformed response to Hollywood donating tons of money to your re-election campaign? Actually listening to your constituents, understanding the issues and being concerned about overly broad bills with tremendous collateral damage? Apparently Senator Leahy doesn’t want you to do that.

Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.”

No. Actually, if you’ve read the actual reports about what’s happening in China and Russia, they suggest that people there are impressed with how real democracy works and can make a difference against corrupt politicians.

As for the actual criminals, they were never scared of this bill anyway. Everything in it was easy to get around.

What’s really troubling is that Leahy has yet to acknowledge the public speaking out. He has yet to acknowledge that there were very real concerns about free speech, about internet security and about collateral damage. He still wants to frame this as a Mom and Apple Pie discussion about American values… while ignoring what the American public actually has said. Now that’s something to be frightened about.

Either way, be clear on one thing: Leahy is not giving up, and it’s very likely he’ll be back with a new PIPA before long.

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Comments on “Patrick Leahy Still Doesn't Get It; Says Stopping PIPA Is A Victory For Thieves”

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Anonymous Coward says:

We can’t discard that leahy will treath to return…..but when that day happens, we will be ready. After wednesday’s movements and everything, there won’t be doubts we won’t let crappy bills like that to be just moved easily. True it will be hard…but with our efforts, having Ron Wyden, Darell Issa in our side……..we won’t let another movement so easily ever again.

el_segfaulto (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

And saying that sharing culture is teh evilz, is intellectually dishonest as well.

Reel to reel killed music, so did home taping, as did mix CDs. That damned industry has more lives than a zombie cat.

Personally I think the only people in this argument that are “sick sociopaths” are the ones willing to ruin lives and take away freedoms for people doing what comes naturally…sharing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you that his money you are depriving him of the use of that money, if you copy his money he still gets to use the his and you with luck your copies.

See the difference?

Stealing has an exclusion component to it, which is not present in copying, copying something doesn’t deprive anyone of the use or the market, the competition that results could result in less market share, but no one should be shielded from market forces.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

People also shoplift….to the point that businesses build in that as part of the expense of doing business. The put in the cameras and catch the people doing it, and turn em in.

What most businesses DON’T do is refuse to adapt or reinvent themselves into the modern world.

It’s clear there is money out there to be made, if you will just provide the service/goods to the consumer.

But Big Content refuses……your loss.

Anonymous Coward says:

We can’t discard that leahy will treath to return…..but when that day happens, we will be ready. After wednesday’s movements and everything, there won’t be doubts we won’t let crappy bills like that to be just moved easily. True it will be hard…but with our efforts, having Ron Wyden, Darell Issa in our side……..we won’t let another movement so easily ever again.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jan 20th, 2012 @ 1:02pm

As a Vermonter myself, Micheal is absolutely right, The general population of Vermont thinks we have the best senators in Washington. And While Sen. Sanders is a unique voice in Washington, Leahy is just another industry puppet, and no one here knows it.

I can Happily say my vote didn’t help him get re-elected (due to his position on COICA), but I wasn’t surprised he won, and won’t be surprised when he gets re-elected in 2014 (providing he doesn’t have a heart attack and die by then.)

PaulClarkSaintJohn (profile) says:

Time For A New Movement

I think its time for a new movement. The motto can be

When you take away my rights so that someone else can make more money, it is no different that stealing my house, selling it, and giving the money to them. Its theft.

We can turn the media companies’ campaign of downloading illegal content is theft around on them.

Anonymous Coward says:

the whole idea is for the entertainment industries to control the best release and distribution service there is, ie the Internet. if that ever happens, the job losses that will undoubtedly come will be because those industries then wont need people in factories making little plastic discs, certainly in the quantities they are at the moment, nor the cases, nor the artwork printouts, nor the high street shops, nor the lorries, boats, planes or any other physical method of taking things from ‘A’ to ‘B’. that, however, will be ok, because those industries will be the ones that take the jobs away. they will save a fortune by doing that, but make even more money by still charging the same amount as they do for a disc when the ‘info’ is downloaded digitally. guess that wont matter tho’, will it?

Mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right, and I don’t know why I didn’t realize this before.
Holywood is not just trying to prop their old business model up, they are trying to become the gatekeepers of the internet, period. Congress loved the idea, because they could ask Hollywood to censor whatever they wanted and still appear to be uninvolved. Everything would have to be approved by Hollywood, or they would take down the entire site. And as Frank Herbert said in Dune, he who can destroy something, controls it.
I just don’t see how they thought they could get away with it for long. The backlash would have been much worse.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

March against Big Content and Abusive Laws

Sorry about being a bit out of context, but it took some time to think this through and write it up. This is in response to a couple of earlier posts, but knowing how things work around here, I wanted the community to actually see it.

It seems to me that the blackout is going to turn out to be a much more effective form of communication than the DDOS attacks. In that light, let me suggest a method that follows the former rather than the latter.

Declare the month of March to be a month of communication directed at Big Content and the Government. To this end, rather than blacking out websites, use links, cover pages, banners, and widgets (get creative) to send unequivocal statements to both the *IAA’s and their corporate minions, as well as all the forms of government that the current position of things is not to the liking of the people. Using March 1) gives time to get the word out and 2) allows the use of the (possibly weak) correlation to the multiple uses of the word march.

Encourage the purchase of content from Independent content creators. Include extensive lists of possibilities in all categories including but not limited to movies, music, books, and games. A big increase in this segment will speak volumes to to refute the ‘folks only want free’ argument. Spend generously.

Deny money to Big Content by not attending movie theaters or buying DVD’s, CD’s, MP3’s, Games (used market is OK), Pay Per Views, or other forms that directly give them money. Understanding that folks have ongoing commitments to things like Cable, Television, Radio (money not direct to content) or ongoing subscriptions, express support for these where practicable. The goal is to give 0 direct sales to Big Content.

Suggest that people not do any downloading or sharing via the Internet during this time, as it helps to defeat the argument that Big Content will use, that ‘folks only want free’. Yes the sneaker-net will still be available, but it is not possible to quantify this behavior.

Express support for content creators and contempt for middlemen.

On the political side, continue to use email, snail mail, and phone calls to politicians and political campaigns concerning corruption (campaign finance), monopolies, and the Supreme Courts assault on the meaning and intent of the constitution (companies are not persons) and that the theft of the public domain is unconscionable. Make no campaign contributions during this time, as a statement. Suggest to congress-critters that their continued employment by the people depends upon their taking immediate action to correct the Courts inequities. This is a government ‘By the people and For the people’, and corporations are NOT persons. Suggest adamantly that it is imperative to remove money from politics by completely funding all elections by the government using the business licenses of Big Content as a strong arm to require advertising space as authorized by the new elections process. End closed hearings and backroom dealing with severe criminal penalties for any office holder who participates in such behavior. Send clear and unequivocal instruction to the Executive Branch that jurisdiction stretching, lack of adversarial hearings and other abuses of the constitution should be considered treason against the people with appropriate criminal consequences for the perpetrators and their supervisors.

Let me know what is missing, or other issues (I know you will), or other suggestions for improvement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: March against Big Content and Abusive Laws

We need to repeal current IP laws. We need to do things like reducing copy protection lengths. We need to let govt established monopolists know that a bill being passed isn’t permanent. Just because a bill is passed doesn’t mean it will never be repealed.

The reason why they put so much effort into passing these bills is because even if they fail at first, they know that they must succeed only once and then the bill stays in force perpetually. That needs to change. Copy protection lengths need to be repealed. Many other broken laws need to be repealed. We need to deliver a message, just because a bad law passes doesn’t mean it stays passed.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

>>You don’t pass a new law — you have businesses adapt and innovate. And in that way, everyone wins.

I don’t think that is accurate. The traditional gatekeepers don’t win. You might argue that a more vibrant economy is good for them but I doubt that people who have been brought up in the closed RIAA/MPAA ecosystems see it that way. They only see looming disaster as the system around them comes apart. Artists thriving without their guidance as gatekeepers is unthinkable. Western civilization continuing without them serving as gatekeepers is unthinkable.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Critical?

Yes, but…
So the whole “gatekeeper” gig is going to the dogs–that happens. But ya know what’ll always be there? Critics. Art critics, food critics, music critcs, etcetera ad nauseaum. Those self-appointed people/groups who declare “this is the best and here’s why” and for some reason other people listen to them.

Believe it not, it’s a niche. Apparently it’s a needed niche as we have critics for (almost?) everything.

Sure, it’s not as good as being a gatekeeper–but you can keep the same mindset (sorta) and still make money at it.

lora says:

Re: Wait...what?

Well, Megaupload was charging subscription fees for uninterrupted services. I watched some videos through the site, but wasn’t going to pay them anything because I knew they didn’t have the rights to distribute content. In fact I described the site to someone as “probably foreign, and barely legal, if at all.”

But you’re right. Most piracy is just sharing.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (profile) says:

You're Being Too Hard On Him

“Leahy has one person to blame for a lack of debate on PIPA: himself.”

That’s not true. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the media lobby and other supporters of the bills.

“The public (you know, the people Leahy is supposed to represent) were absolutely discussing it and debating it online. Leahy was free to join in. He did not.”

You assume he knows how to use the internet well enough to join in (or even read) the discussion. Citation needed.

“Either way, be clear on one thing: Leahy is not giving up, and it’s very likely he’ll be back with a new PIPA before long.”


Hans says:

Mock anger and clueless

It’s obvious that his diatribe is simply mock anger to placate the people who paid him to pass this bill. He has to appear indignant or they’ll start talking about him the way they’re talking about Obama. In other words, he’s scared.

I believe the message he hasn’t received is that he should be working for the voters, not the “stakeholders” he speaks of.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what Congress (and the public) are missing;

1. When people pay $300-$600 for mp3 players and phones the “issue” is not the money.

2. The “issue” is not that people don’t want to pay for it – and those who don’t are spending the same money elsewhere (food, rent, etc) so the money is NOT taken out of the economy.

3. People want to watch what they want to, where they want to and when they want to. What’s wrong with that?

Plenty if you ask the cable and entertainment industry who are used to controlling the pipeline. Why can’t I watch TV on my computer (legally)?

4. This has been going on for over 10 years now and the entertainment and distribution industry still can’t get their heads wrapped around digital – Is that the consumer’s fault or why should the entire BLAME be focused solely on consumers?

5. You can’t legislate average people doing average things as “illegal”. It just won’t work. It never has and never will.

6. Does the U.S. really want to take on the role of making and enforcing laws on a global scale? That’s scary.

Congress and industry can argue morals for the end of time and the realites are that people don’t want to wait, and won’t wait, for them to figure it out. Already this battle has lost a generation and now on it’s way to the second generation of potential customers. So who is hurting who when technological advances are stymied because they can’t figure out who owns what and how it will be delivered.

Give me a break. That’s why the public has become so apathetic about issues such as SOPA. It’s old news. They are going to do what they want to whether anyone agrees with them or not.

The issue is not money.

Nick (profile) says:

Doesn't care

During the senate write in campaign I wrote “my” senator- Mr. Leahy. His response reeks of a “Pft! what ever, I’ll do what I want”

Thank you for contacting me about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

The growth of the digital marketplace is extraordinary and it gives creators and producers new opportunities to reach consumers, but it also brings with it the perils of piracy and counterfeiting. The increased usage and accessibility of the Internet has transformed it into the new Main Street. Internet purchases have become so commonplace that consumers are less wary of online shopping and therefore more easily victimized by online products that are unsafe or stolen. Online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost the American economy billions of dollars. This is unacceptable in any economic climate, but it is devastating today.

I introduced the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act on May 12, 2011, and the full Senate was set to begin consideration of it on January 24, 2012. Unfortunately, debate on this important bill has been postponed. It is disappointing that the Senate could not proceed to debate solutions to a problem on which there is consensus ? that the theft of American intellectual property by foreign websites devastates our economy.

The PROTECT IP Act is a balanced solution that gives law enforcement the tools to go after foreign websites that do nothing but steal our intellectual property. Websites that engage in this behavior in the United States are subject to a number of remedies, including copyright infringement lawsuits, Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices, and even civil forfeiture of domain names. Meanwhile, foreign websites can steal American intellectual property without fear of recourse as they exist beyond the scope of American laws. It is unacceptable that we have a system in place that treats foreign websites engaged in criminal activity better than we treat American sites that do the same.

The PROTECT IP Act targets only the worst of the worst foreign websites, those that have no significant use other than infringement. I support this narrow definition of a rogue website even though it would allow many websites outside of the United States that engage in the theft of American intellectual property to continue to reach the U.S. market. In my view it is important to have a narrow definition, as well as explicitly include significant due process protections for websites, because these are safeguards that will prevent abuse and ensure that only the most egregious and potentially dangerous websites are targeted.

In drafting this bill, I have been committed to an open process. I have been open to hearing and addressing concerns from all stakeholders, which is why I have been willing to hold back one of the most significant remedies contained in the bill for future study. That the Senate cannot debate even the most narrowly tailored solutions to this problem is indicative of the political climate we live in today. I will continue to work on solutions to put an end to this rampant theft because it must be stopped.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Doesn't care

What a piece of rubbish. The process was not open. The theft (according to DOJ) was from U.S. users and that’s why they were extradicted.

I think it would be impossible to have cloud storage or YouTube or any service of value without something, at some time, stepping on someone’s toes.

But is that the consumer’s fault? Is it ok to take down millions of files for how many … do they even know?

This is a witch hunt. There’s a lot more motivation to this than lost sales. As usual.

Anonymous Coward says:

It seemed pretty obvious, given the RIAA/MPAA’s historied that they’re only in this to prop up their current business model of being parasitic middlemen.

Sure, the labels and studios and publishers had their place, when artists didn’t have the means to produce and distribute their own content, outside of very small projects. Now we do, and we are rapidly leaving our reliance on them behind. It makes little sense for the content creator to hand over a giant slice to a middleman when he/she can interact directly with the content consumer.

So the content-control industry, the people who get rich more often than the creators, wants to hold on to “their” pie, and are naturally doing everything they can to control the new distribution channel outright, instead of working in the interests of the creators they supposedly represent (hey, reminds me of many unions – no longer relevant, in it for the sake of $ not their constituents). And yes, they are PERFECTLY WILLING TO THROW AWAY OUR UNIVERSAL RIGHT TO A FREE AND OPEN EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION FOR THE SAKE OF PROFITS. Whew, sorry… I’m a little upset at this. And their bought-and-paid-for shills like Leahy (someone I’m now ashamed to say for whom I voted) are willing to sell THEIR constituents down the river as well, for the same reason.

So, what to do? This is a question of survival on both sides, so it will be bitter and ceaseless until one side caves. And for the sake of future human society, it had better not be OUR side. Freedom should trump entertainment in any sane society, but ours is obviously not. There’s a real danger that the Sheeple would gladly give up a free Internet if their steady flow of Rhianna hits and the next “Real Housewives of the Bachelor” f**king shows dried up. A month-long boycott of corporate-held content would be a powerful statement if anyone joined, but even if 2 million Redditors took part let’s face it: we’re not the source of the bulk of corporate media consumption, and I don’t think we’ll be able to pry our teens and bored housewives and fratboys and grandparents away from the trough.

It’s worth a try, though. I think later in the year would be better, because if there’s going to be a month-long boycott of corporate media, there should at least be some new, for-the-occasion independent content for people to consume. Also, the weather in march sucks in a lot of places and people will want to be inside more, bored more, and less likely to participate.

Anything to break the parasitic hold on the internet that the old guard are trying to establish -I’m in, wholeheartedly. It’s really too important not to be.

Anonymous Coward says:

What the Tech Spokesperson needs to do....

I think one way to get the point across is instead of stupid speeches, and talking points, make the next visit before congress a ‘show and tell’.

Get a gadget for each of them to hold in their hand during the presentation. Something that runs a handful of apps…one of them tied into the presentation….

Now, show them some clips of videos and have them use the gadgets to vote on ‘is this infringement or not?’. Use examples of classic infringement, all the way to complete fair use.

Show them the ways that people use this technology, with the gadget in their hands. Make them order pizza, or books. Display photo’s of the kids/grandkids.

I don’t mean in that sappy ‘Microsoft commercial’ way (although it’s closer).

Put different songs on these gadgets…. preferably ones that the congressman like, except put the song on one of the other congressman’s gadget. Now ask them to figure out how legally they want their buddy to hear the song (like from across the room.)

The tech industry should not be approaching them with just talk, because clearly that doesn’t work. Do what we do best….put the gadget in their hand, and show them how it works…..and then show them all of the things possible, so that they can see where we are coming from.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am a pirate

and I offer no justifications or excuses for my filthy, disgusting pirating ways. I will continue until the studios offer:

1080p/5.1 formatted,

downloadable full versions of their products, at a reasonable price range (NOT full DVD price – what moron came up with THAT non-starter?), from a reputable online source.

Hear that, Hollywood? I love your stuff, I want to BUY your stuff, and if you can get your coked-up heads out of your asses for a moment, ask your buddies over at the record labels how their online sales are doing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a movie to download, a sheep to fuck, and if I’m lucky a couple of puppies to kick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Slightly confused…

When Comcast throttles users, they get a slap on the wrist and asked not to do it again. Basically, the politicians looked the other way.

When CarrierIQ violates your privacy, the politicians are look the other way (so far).

When ICE/DHS takes a website down – just because – like or – the politicians look the other way.

why can’t they just look the other way when we want to use the internet that we are paying for?

LC (profile) says:

Leahy and Smith. GET RID OF THEM.

Leahy proving is pigheadedness better than ever. He, along with Smith, have proven that they do not care about the constitution or the right or the people. Their respective constituencies have a duty not just to America, but to the world, to get rid of these two dinosaurs. The same goes for the constituency of any Representative or Senator who supports/sponsors the legislation and hasn’t since backed down.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m a constituent of Leahy’s and I emailed him about SOPA/PIPA. In return I got what was clearly a form letter in which he drones on and on stubbornly about his support for PIPA and why we have to have it, etc. He doesn’t get the overwhelming opposition at all and furthermore demonstrated no hint of desire to listen to his own constituents — for whom he’s supposed to be working in the first place. Time to vote for someone else, I think!

Loki says:

The United States Senate has identified a problem directly affecting American jobs, American workers and American consumers.

Unfortunately, rather than solving the problem and doing something to substantially change the institutions/processes (Freddie Mac, BEar Sterns, Fannie Mae) and actually fix the frakking economy, they just handed a bunch of financial institutions a boatload of money so the could concentrate on giving the entertainment industry preferential treatment.

iBelieve says:


Its cheaper for the Industry who has controlled all previous markets in entertainment(in a nutshell) to strong arm the public using the courts, than it is for them to change the way they have always held dominance over the public. This is their approach to gaining control of the internet. They must have surely been freaking out these past 15 years or so, but have now managed to get their game on in the courts. From hearing about the artists who are getting screwed and the public who are getting the shaft also, I would say that if left to themselves, this greedy bunch would be pretty lonely when people wise up and stop dealing with them entirely.

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