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.

Filed Under: patrick leahy, pipa, protect ip, sopa

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jan 2012 @ 1:27pm

    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.

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