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CES 2012: Wyden, Issa Against Pending Web Bills

Las Vegas – Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rep. Darrell Issa
(R-Calif.) joined with Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president/CEO
Gary Shapiro calling for the defeat of the current anti-piracy legislation now
before both houses of Congress.

Wyden and Issa gave an overview to a press gathering of
their fight against PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online
Piracy Act (SOPA) that is working its way through the House.

Wyden has introduced the Open Act in the Senate, and Issa
plans to do so in the House in the near future.

Wyden said the fight is nearing a critical point as
lawmakers head back to Washington in the coming weeks to take up the issue.

Issa will hold a hearing on Jan. 18 that will include
venture capitalists and companies that could potentially be negatively impacted
by the proposed legislation.

Issa hopes the hearing will help educate those lawmakers
supporting the current legislation and convince them to instead back Issa and
Wyden’s Online Protection & ENforcement
of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act).

Issa said the OPEN
Act will protect content providers and enable quick enforcement through the
International Trade Commission, whereas PIPA and SOPA would use various federal
judges to render a decision. Issa claimed these judges are not well-suited for
dealing with high-tech issues like online copyright infringement whereas the
ITC handles similar cases as a matter of course.

“Our bill gives the
ITC the ability to follow the money. It will allow them to go to Master Card,
PayPal to stop the money,” Issa said.

He compared this to
the type of enforcement that was used to stop the online gambling industry,
where the government attacked the banks and credit card companies that were
doing business with offshore-based gambling operations.

Wyden, who chairs
the Senate trade subcommittee, has promised to filibuster if needed to stop PIPA
from being voted on in the Senate when it comes before that body on Jan. 23.

“I do not believe
you can go out and damage the architecture of the Internet in the name of
anti-piracy,” Wyden said.

Issa said the OPEN
Act would also give the ITC the ability to quickly go after the most offending
piracy sites. He said about 20 sites worldwide are responsible for 80 percent
of the piracy taking place.

Issa did not mention
how much support his alternative has in the House.

Opponents to the
OPEN Act, including the Recording Industry Association of America and the
Motion Picture Association of America, replied, saying it goes soft on Internet
piracy and places copyright holders at a disadvantage. They said it creates new
hurdles for artists and forces them to litigate against pirates in Washington
instead of their local federal court.