Source: Online protest threatens piracy bill
January 17th, 2012
07:25 PM ET
10 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. Judge Dredd

    Those lobbyists for this bill always want more and want more. That is all that motivates, greed and it will kill them all in the end.

    January 17, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  2. OrangeW3dge

    "Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation." – –
    And you can't see that legalising state-sponsored censorship without due process is akin to communist China's Great Firewall? There are no verifiable statistics to support the entertainment industries claim that they lose billions of jobs or dollars or even hours of sleep. This is a blatant attempt to maximise control over consumers against their will. Time-Warner has lost revenue in the past by going against their customers needs, and this will be their down-fall if they persist.

    January 17, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  3. Conservative?

    Want to oppose Corporate Bullies? Throw that Ipod in the lake and get a device that does not shackle you and treat your personal content like they have a copy right on it.

    January 17, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. Scott in Santa Barbara

    When Reid says the bill "is not perfect," watch out!! This bill needs to be defeated. None of them thought of the severe negative consequences of this thing when it was introduced on behest of the recording industry. And, please stop insulting my intelligence by calling it "job creation." Stuff like this is why congress has a low rating. Can we really trust them? I've already written my representative and senators and told them to vote no.

    January 17, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  5. George

    The people need to stand up for laws that work for them .... this is not a law for the people .... it is oppressive and will be used to silence the voices of protest and resistance to the US government and the corporations!

    January 17, 2012 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  6. Mo

    Had to give away your stance on the issue at the end, didn't you...

    January 17, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  7. a slozomby

    ""the merits of the bill are getting lost""

    merits....... i have an idea. lets write a law that says everyone gets free healthcare. and the congressfolks get to pay for it out of their pocket ( not federal money) . hey that law has alot of merit. why wont they support it??

    please explain how a law that allows corporations to seize property without a trial has merits.

    January 17, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. James

    Old men with no understanding of how the internet works are wanting to censor it.

    January 17, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. T

    Wow, Time Warner finally let you talk about this story, eh, CNN? Too bad your paymasters didn't let you break the story a couple of weeks ago.

    January 17, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Conservative?

    If the marketers were to adopt and adhere to a serious code of ethics I would be delighted to meet them halfway.

    January 17, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  11. Bill

    Isn't it about time that our "representatives" start listening to the people they represent? We are tired of the "we know best" attitude in Washington! It used to be a country "by the people"... I'm not too sure anymore.

    January 17, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  12. GT

    If Time Warner and Big Governmeant types like Patrick Leahyare in favor of this bill it MUST be a bad idea for those of us who value the freedomof the internet.

    January 17, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  13. ericdano

    Congress got in excess of 90 million dollars from lobbyists. And look what happens? The bills get a fast track to passing. It becomes "urgent".

    Yet when something that actually matters to the people of the country, like Health care, jobs, fixing the housing market, fixing the bank bailouts, investigating Wall Street, nothing happens.

    There is only one thing to do. Vote these people out. Any of the Senators or House members who support PIPA or SOPA are taking money from special interests. This means career politicians like Feinstein and Boxer need to go.

    January 17, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  14. MB

    It only makes sense that such a terrible Congress would propose such terrible bills such as SOPA and PIPA which would undermine one of the greatest technological accomplishments in human history.

    January 17, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Mike Jones

    chip, chip, chip ....

    The sound of American liberties being widdle.

    How is that you say? These bills destroy the American concept of due process.

    January 17, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  16. Pat

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

    In cases like this, "publicity stunt" means turning a bill that could be passed quietly before anyone had time to learn about it, into an open discussion, leading to pesky citizen involvement. Yes, those pesky citizens, why don't they shut up and trust us?

    January 17, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  17. Aki

    Yeah yeah, talk away, DC, just about 10% of us actually approve of you guys. Most of you guys deserve to go home and get a productive job instead of bothering us. And, by the way, we'd get around SOPA and your PIPA anyway, despite how much harder things become. Oh, and how about actually letting a trial happen about whether or not to take down a site due to a copyright "violation," oh, wait, that's reserved for Eric and Obama for deciding, sorry to ask.

    January 18, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  18. John Smith...

    This is not an ati piracy bill. It is a bill created to solve a problem that doesn't exist. Give people where to buy content with fair prices and people will buy it.

    If piracy was such a problem Itunes and Amazon music wasn't a huge success selling billions of dollars in songs.

    Amazon sells UNPROTECTED mp3 songs and it is a huge success.

    The MPAA wants to super protect their media with DRM to the point you can't watch it anywhere. They are crippling their own market and complaining about it. Their answer is to block everything to stop the internet on its tracks to suit their business model. Until they get along with time modern times and make their content EASILY available for PURCHASE.

    January 18, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  19. John Smith

    Time Warner doesn't give any facts about the bill; they want it to pass. It isn't anti-piracy, the way it is worded, any corporate sponsor of the bill can complain your website violates their copyright (even if doesn't) and then get it taken down without your consent. It is anti-free speech, and it also doesn't actually understand how technical Internet protocols work. The bill passing would help Time Warner maintain an information (i.e. news) monopoly.

    January 18, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  20. Robert Smith

    I have contributed small amounts of money to Wikipedia because it has been very useful to me. If it becomes a political site, I will no longer support it.

    January 18, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  21. Are You Kidding?

    I don't think that these protest are stunts........just online free speech.....something members of the house and senate I hope would know something about.

    January 18, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  22. Dustin Sanchez

    The "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) & her sister bill "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA) are massive threats to the foundation, security, and vibrant culture of the Internet. We cannot allow these bills to pass. They must be stopped! Call your elected officials right now and demand that they oppose this legislation. THANK YOU!

    January 18, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. HAHA!

    'Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation.' I think these guys need to be block busted, apparently, they have grown to big.

    January 18, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  24. Paul Revere

    This bill is big corporations using government policy to enforce controls over the free exchange of information. This bills passes and America needs a complete political revolution to change our leadership during elections. But in the end while the power brokers will blame the Democrats this is a Republican bill but maybe the big corporations have lobbied hard enough to sell it to the Democrats as well!!!!!

    January 18, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  25. Mathew

    Does Lamar Smith not get it? WE DO NOT CARE if the websites are located in the US or not. The free exchange of information is one of the most important aspects of the internet. We are not China or Iran that blocks its citizens' access to foreign websites on a whim. The implications are terrifying.

    These bills MUST die.

    January 18, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
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