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Fight to Stop SOPA and PIPA Grows

Websites go black while voters and congressmen speak out.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

January 20, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said on Fox News this week that is exactly what the bills would do:

You can argue that foreign piracy needs to be shut down … and shut down for good. At the same time you can recognize that the innovation and wealth that has come out of the Internet far exceeds that of the Motion Picture Association and many of these other groups combined.

Issa has sponsored the competing Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade or OPEN Act, which is much less broad and seeks to deny funding to infringing sites through the International Trade Commission, which already enforces laws against counterfeit goods such as fake designer handbags. Issa says that currently the ITC intercepts and seizes far more fake goods than actually make it to the shelves of bodegas in New York City. Issa also noted the OPEN Act has been available for public markup on the Web for four weeks now.

It must be noted that Issa personally has a stake in this fight as the holder of more patents than any other member of Congress.

Congressional sources noted that when Issa and several others came to the House markup session of the SOPA bill with technical questions, the supporters mostly glossed over them or simply didn’t understand the questions.

McSherry said the OPEN Act is flawed, but is a better option than the two bills currently in front of Congress — but that EFF is focusing on stopping them right now:

These two bills need to be killed. OPEN is better; it’s still flawed but can be fixed.

Currently SOPA is dead in the House, but its Senate counterpart PIPA is alive and well, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is vowing to pass it — even though Senate Republicans, including Jerry Moran, (R-KS) have vowed a filibuster.

McSherry said that should either bill be signed into law, a constitutional challenge is waiting:

What we have learned over the last decade is that legislation is not the answer. We have a First Amendment right to access this information. If SOPA passes there will be a constitutional challenge. I’ll be happy to lead that charge.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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