Source: Online protest threatens piracy bill
January 17th, 2012
07:25 PM ET
2 years ago

Source: Online protest threatens piracy bill

Washington (CNN) – The growing Internet protest–including a planned blackout by some websites Wednesday– against an online anti-piracy bill moving through Congress is "daunting," a Senate Democratic aide said Tuesday.

The aide said the protest may be powerful enough to keep senators from voting to even take up the bill that until recently commanded rare bipartisan support.

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"Before it looked like it would pass with 80 votes, and now [the online protest] looks like something that will suck the votes away," the aide said. "We're at a tipping point. It will either become a huge issue or die down a bit and that will determine the future of this."

The aide said it was premature to say exactly how it will play out but acknowledged that because of protest from Internet mainstays like Google and Wikipedia "the merits of the bill are getting lost" and "sand is shifting pretty quickly" against it.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, is weighing changes to the bill to address concerns in the online community. In particular, he is considering dropping a provision that would impose new requirements on Internet service providers.

Senate Democratic leaders scheduled the bill as the first order of business when the Senate returns to work next week. They considered it one key part of their overall job creation agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was open to changes to satisfy critics.

In a letter last week to GOP senators concerned about the bill, Reid acknowledged the bill "is not perfect" but said it would "protect American ingenuity and commerce" and is "too important to delay."

"It's tough to believe that after another week of this we're going to be able to get cloture [the 60 votes needed to take up the bill], so that would settle it for the immediate term," the Senate Democratic aide said.

Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, who is leading the effort to move a bill in the House, criticized efforts by the bill's opponents to mount the blackout on Wednesday.

"This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts," Smith said in written statement Tuesday.

Smith has already agreed to make changes to his legislation in response to concerns by opponents. His statement stressed that the House bill "only targets foreign websites that are primarily dedicated to illegal activity. It does not grant the Justice Department the authority to seek a court order to shut down any website operated in the U.S."

California Rep. Darrell Issa, who is pushing his own legislation as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, cancelled a hearing scheduled Wednesday on the problems that Google and others have with the bill.

But in a statement Friday, Issa said, "Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote."

Despite signals from House GOP leaders that the bill won't be scheduled for a vote until some of the controversial provisions are worked out, Smith announced that his committee plans to consider the bill early next month.

Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation.

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Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Nathan M

    And shame on Time Warner (parent of CNN) for supporting internet censorship in the first place in favor of huge media moguls who are using their money to influence our government into creating and passing this bill.

    January 17, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  2. johnfreyan

    Just goes to show you that both sides of the aisle have absolutely no clue as to how to do this whole "governing" thing. How did they NOT consult the experts of the field and thought "Hey, you know what would be great? If we wrote a bill about this one issue that we have no idea what the details are."

    January 17, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  3. NudeTruth

    Youtube: Newt Is Watching – Fox Analyst Can't Say "Ron Paul" and "Best" in the Same Sentence

    January 17, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. FREEEEEEEdom

    Keep the Washington Perverts out and off the Internet.

    All they Touch , They Destroy!

    Including Freedom,Liberty and Justice.

    January 17, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. justin opinion

    Stupid citizens, always messing up the plans of the Corporate run Government.

    January 17, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  6. Sean

    Lamar Smith is flat-out lying about what this bill can do. I'm just glad both sides have signed on to this so the American people will know that no one is on their side and if they want to keep the rights they have they are going to have to fight for them.

    January 17, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. andyj

    The only people that want this bill to pass are 1.) the big corporations that will benefit from the govts ability to shut down competing websites 2.) the legislators who love giving up our rights and freedoms for a big payday. I, and everyone I know, is against this. Call you congressmen and tell them how you feel!

    January 17, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Tara

    So much for small government!

    January 17, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. BK

    This bill wouldn't affect pirates even in the ~slightest~. They'd connect to a third party DNS server that was outside the US and go to where they wanted. This is, by the way, very easy and even someone with than average intelligence could follow instructions to do it themselves or just install a program to do it for them.
    It ~would~ affect legal sites who don't have the option of effortlessly skirting the law, however. So in summary, this law would be a thorn in the side of legal sites and have no effect on the actual activity that it is supposed to be targeting.
    I'm tired of anti-piracy attempts that make getting legal material harder than getting it illegally. I have literally had to pirate things ~after having purchased them legally~ because the legal copy would never work.

    January 17, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Saboth

    Good. This bill is insane. It benefits only a few industries while threatening thousands of others, as well as free speech on the internet. You'd think this was some kind of crucial defense bill that would result in millions of deaths if not passed immediately, judging by the urgency of the backers to get it passed ASAP. The worst that will happen is the RIAA and MPAA and a few other companies would lose the same profits they've been losing for years. We don't need corporations and the government shutting down websites with no recourse. Recent history has shown they are not intelligent enough to do so responsibly. Just look at a legitimate music review website that was shut down for ONE YEAR by the US government by mistake, because the government confused it with a piracy site. Eventually they decided it was an error, and allowed the citizen access to his own website again, with no apology or explanation. Yeah, these are the bozos we need running the show.

    January 17, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. jms58

    Only congress could screw up the internet. They should all be removed from office and replaced by a flea farm.

    January 17, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  12. Izzydunne

    You can trust politicians. They are your friend.

    January 17, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. geggyg

    How would Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith react if another country passed laws that could close down American websites or companies, I am sure he would want to bomb or place severe embargos on the country until they they repealed the socialist , antibusiness , anti american law.
    But its ok for him to try and have the rest of the world behave the way he wants ,

    January 17, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  14. Ben Gonzalez

    Entertainment companies have been waiting for the moment when their well spent campaign donations would bring consumers to their knees. Why is it that "Big Entertainment" and "Big Celebrities" are entitled to earn and hoard wealth without anyone in the media even noticing? Where are the watchdogs? Where are those looking out for the little people? Why can't I get entertainment the way I want it, convenient and low cost? Why don't they have to operate by the same rules as the rest of the marketplace?

    January 17, 2012 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  15. Joe

    If those favoring a big brother society succeed, then the obvious answer is to relocate all internet services offshore. It may eliminate millions of American jobs, which is what the Congress has been best at the last 10 years.

    January 17, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  16. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is a question of what goes too far in terms of what is free speech and what is taken from those without permission.

    January 17, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. andy levinson

    I decline to pay any more taxes to the kelptocrats

    Join the I Decline Movement

    January 17, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. andrew

    This MUST be completely thrown out. "Fixing" it will likely make it worse and more harmful. Government has never been known to make things EASIER only harder and more taxing!

    January 17, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  19. DEd

    I think you mean priacy bill threatens online protest.

    January 17, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  20. RobotHero

    Hopefully this bill will silence the internet and Youtube "critics" such as Nostalgia Critic and RedLetterMedia. They steal an hour of movie footage, add a commentary track over it, and then claim "Fair Use", so that the content isn't taken down. Corporates don't have the time to take these people to court. The need a more efficient means of taken down the potentially infringing content.

    January 17, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  21. johnson

    "Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation."
    After reading the articles on this site covering this, this quote makes a lot of sense.

    January 17, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  22. Chris, North Carolina

    Of course Time Warner supports it. Its whole objective is to screw us all out of our money. Here is how it has gone for all of us real people. Netflix dvd's AND free streaming.......FAIL. Forget Netflix, Redbox is still just one dollar.......FAIL. Blockbuster is coming out wi..FAIL FAIL!!! I guess I'll just watch Youtube and read the great wisdom of the Wikipedia since that is free entertainment......................please don't!

    January 17, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. Thomas Brown

    These two bills the SOPA and Protect IP ACT are awful bills. They are attacking the internet by allowing the Federal Government to shutdown sites on a company's say so that a intellectual property law is being violated.
    This is like using a hammer to push in a thumbtack it's over kill. The companies that are having issues with sites that violate copyright laws have a way to deal with it they can take the offender to court and seek a remedy there. The federal government should not be the arbitrator over these issues between a company and an individual.

    January 17, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Shut it down for a day . Let all the Twitter and Facebook Junkies suffer cold turkey .

    SUFFER !

    January 17, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  25. Freedom Annie

    Hear, hear! No more attempts at sliding in draconian censorship laws that crush freedom and privacy to plump the wallets of a half dozen media conglomerates!

    January 17, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
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