CES 2012: Wyden, Issa Against Pending Web Bills

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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.


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