NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Harry Reid calls off next week’s vote on PIPA

Anoth­er vic­to­ry! From Sen­a­tor Har­ry Rei­d’s office:

In light of recent events, I have decid­ed to post­pone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

There is no rea­son that the legit­i­mate issues raised by many about this bill can­not be resolved. Coun­ter­feit­ing and pira­cy cost the Amer­i­can econ­o­my bil­lions of dol­lars and thou­sands of jobs each year, with the movie indus­try alone sup­port­ing over 2.2 mil­lion jobs. We must take action to stop these ille­gal prac­tices. We live in a coun­try where peo­ple right­ful­ly expect to be fair­ly com­pen­sat­ed for a day’s work, whether that per­son is a min­er in the high desert of Neva­da, an inde­pen­dent band in New York City, or a union work­er on the back lots of a Cal­i­for­nia movie studio.

I admire the work that Chair­man Leahy has put into this bill. I encour­age him to con­tin­ue engag­ing with all stake­hold­ers to forge a bal­ance between pro­tect­ing Amer­i­cans’ intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, and main­tain­ing open­ness and inno­va­tion on the inter­net. We made good progress through the dis­cus­sions we’ve held in recent days, and I am opti­mistic that we can reach a com­pro­mise in the com­ing weeks.

Reid had ear­li­er said he would not both­er whip­ping Demo­c­ra­t­ic votes for the bill. Now he’s putting off the vote togeth­er, which is great news. It does­n’t mean PIPA is dead, but at least it’s not going to be advanc­ing next week.

This vic­to­ry would not have hap­pened were it not for Wednes­day’s Inter­net strike. Our day of action con­vinced more than half a dozen PIPA co-spon­sors to drop their sup­port of the leg­is­la­tion, and led more than a dozen unde­clared sen­a­tors to announce their oppo­si­tion for the first time.

Now we’ve achieved some­thing more: We’ve forced Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid — a self-pro­claimed “admir­er” of the bill as draft­ed — to pull it off of the table for the time being. That’s a pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant accomplishment.

The MPAA’s Chris Dodd has con­ced­ed that SOPA and PIPA’s momen­tum has been lost. He gave away as much in  a con­ver­sa­tion with the New York Times, which sought an inter­view with him to get his reac­tion to the Inter­net strike.

On Thurs­day, how­ev­er, Mr. Dodd appeared to have all but thrown in the tow­el on the bills in their cur­rent form, and was talk­ing about lessons learned. He acknowl­edged his side had com­mit­ted a mis­step by allow­ing Hol­ly­wood to become the face of laws that were intend­ed to pro­tect not just movies, but also more mun­dane prod­ucts — for instance, home smoke alarms — that are fre­quent­ly coun­ter­feit­ed abroad, some­times with dis­as­trous effects.

If Dodd tru­ly thinks that Hol­ly­wood’s only mis­step was not being clever enough with its P.R., he’s got more dis­ap­point­ments com­ing to him.

Sup­port for SOPA and PIPA col­lapsed because the bills that Dod­d’s own peo­ple helped draw up are fatal­ly flawed. Dodd and his crew of lob­by­ists do not under­stand how the Inter­net works, and they still (wrong­ly) think the best way to grow their prof­its is through puni­tive, dra­con­ian leg­is­la­tion instead of innovation.

For years, the MPAA (Motion Pic­ture Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­ca) and the RIAA (Record­ing Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­ca) have been treat­ing their own mem­ber media con­glom­er­ates’ cus­tomers like crim­i­nals, impos­ing dig­i­tal restric­tions man­age­ment on con­tent, slap­ping intim­i­dat­ing warn­ings on discs and try­ing to stamp out online file shar­ing by fil­ing an end­less series of law­suits (even man­ag­ing to tar­get fam­i­lies with­out com­put­ers). These mea­sures have utter­ly failed to stamp out online copy­right infringement.

SOPA and PIPA would not improve mat­ters. Legit­i­mate speech on the Net would be sti­fled and legit­i­mate com­merce on the Net would be under­mined, while those deter­mined to share movies, books, music, or soft­ware would each oth­er would con­tin­ue to do so through dark­nets or oth­er means of shar­ing not yet invented.

We firm­ly believe that SOPA and PIPA are too fatal­ly flawed to be fixed. Dar­rell Issa and Ron Wyden’s OPEN Act (which is total­ly dif­fer­ent leg­is­la­tion) is worth a look, but Dodd, speak­ing on behalf of his trade group, has already tak­en pot shots at their pro­pos­al and made it clear he’s not interested.

It’s evi­dent­ly his way or the highway.

That kind of atti­tude isn’t going to get Dodd what we he wants. We will con­tin­ue to vig­or­ous­ly oppose this leg­is­la­tion in coop­er­a­tion with our many friends and allies in the Inter­net com­mu­ni­ty. And work­ing togeth­er, we’ll pre­vail and pro­tect the most demo­c­ra­t­ic medi­um for com­mu­ni­ca­tion ever invented.

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