Ron Wyden: Puts Hold On PROTECT IP, Temporarily Withdraws Amendment On The PATRIOT Act

from the busy-day dept

Well, here's an update to two separate stories from this morning. First, Senator Ron Wyden, who has been speaking out against the secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, which allowed the feds to do much more than the law seemed to allow, has apparently agreed to withdraw his amendment, after the Senate leadership promised that Wyden can hold hearings on the secret interpretation. If he is not satisfied with the results of those hearings, he can (and, I assume, will) reintroduce his amendment (with Senator Mark Udall) to require that the federal government make public its interpretation of the PATRIOT Act. This is not ideal, but it's better than nothing.

Separately, in response to the news that the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved PROTECT IP, Senator Wyden has done what he did with COICA and put a hold on the bill, effectively blocking it for the time being. This is good news, as hopefully it will force those pushing the law to address the massive problems with the law. Here is Senator Wyden's statement:
Consistent with Senate Standing Orders and my policy of publishing in the Congressional Record a statement whenever I place a hold on legislation, I am announcing my intention to object to any unanimous consent request to proceed to S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act.

In December of last year I placed a hold on similar legislation, commonly called COICA, because I felt the costs of the legislation far outweighed the benefits. After careful analysis of the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, I am compelled to draw the same conclusion. I understand and agree with the goal of the legislation, to protect intellectual property and combat commerce in counterfeit goods, but I am not willing to muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth to achieve this objective. At the expense of legitimate commerce, PIPA's prescription takes an overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective. The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.

The Internet represents the shipping lane of the 21st century. It is increasingly in America's economic interest to ensure that the Internet is a viable means for American innovation, commerce, and the advancement of our ideals that empower people all around the world. By ceding control of the Internet to corporations through a private right of action, and to government agencies that do not sufficiently understand and value the Internet, PIPA represents a threat to our economic future and to our international objectives. Until the many issues that I and others have raised with this legislation are addressed, I will object to a unanimous consent request to proceed to the legislation.

Filed Under: patriot act, protect ip, ron wyden

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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 26 May 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Didn't know it passed yet

    Dammit, I didn't know it had already passed the Judiciary Committee. I just now got off the phone with my Senators' offices. Hopefully my opposition will still count.

    I made a laundry list of everything that is wrong with this bill:

    Specific problems with PROTECT-IP:

    - It does not allow the owners of allegedly infringing sites a chance to defend themselves BEFORE they are put on the "blacklist."

    - It does not specifically state that compliance with 17 USC 512, or othe "safe harbors" laws, makes a site exempt from being considered a "rogue site." (It claims that entities can still assert this as an affirmative defense, but that appears to only apply to the ISP's, search engines, and financial transaction providers - not to the "rogue sites" themselves.)

    - It does not allow the operators of allegedly infringing sites any recourse if they are to be found innocent. They have no means of recuperating any damages to their business (if they are a business), or for compensating them for their loss of civil rights.

    - It does not require transaction providers to differentiate between transactions due solely to the infringing activity, and transactions that are not. An accused site, for example, would have no way to set up a legal defense fund. Furthermore, it is unclear if financial transaction providers are required to stop payments against the owners themselves - making it impossible for them to, for instance, get paid by their employers at their day jobs.

    - It encourages chilling effects by encouraging ISP's, search engines, and transaction providers to blacklist sites solely on their own judgement, and eliminates liability if they do.

    - By allowing copyright owners to place sites on the blacklist, it creates massive opportunities for abuse, such as claiming a site is a "rogue site" for the purposes of eliminating legitimate competition.

    It's a terrible piece of legislation.

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