On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 4:08 PM, Senator Leahy <Senator_Leahy@leahy.senate.gov> wrote
Dear Mr. Leland:
Thank you for contacting me about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
The growth of the digital marketplace is extraordinary and it gives creators and producers new opportunities to reach consumers, but it also brings with it the perils of piracy and counterfeiting. The increased usage and accessibility of the Internet has transformed it into the new Main Street. Internet purchases have become so commonplace that consumers are less wary of online shopping and therefore more easily victimized by online products that are unsafe or stolen. Online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost the American economy billions of dollars. This is unacceptable in any economic climate, but it is devastating today.
I introduced the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act on May 12, 2011, and the full Senate was set to begin consideration of it on January 24, 2012. Unfortunately, debate on this important bill has been postponed. It is disappointing that the Senate could not proceed to debate solutions to a problem on which there is consensus – that the theft of American intellectual property by foreign websites devastates our economy.
The PROTECT IP Act is a balanced solution that gives law enforcement the tools to go after foreign websites that do nothing but steal our intellectual property. Websites that engage in this behavior in the United States are subject to a number of remedies, including copyright infringement lawsuits, Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices, and even civil forfeiture of domain names. Meanwhile, foreign websites can steal American intellectual property without fear of recourse as they exist beyond the scope of American laws. It is unacceptable that we have a system in place that treats foreign websites engaged in criminal activity better than we treat American sites that do the same.
The PROTECT IP Act targets only the worst of the worst foreign websites, those that have no significant use other than infringement. I support this narrow definition of a rogue website even though it would allow many websites outside of the United States that engage in the theft of American intellectual property to continue to reach the U.S. market. In my view it is important to have a narrow definition, as well as explicitly include significant due process protections for websites, because these are safeguards that will prevent abuse and ensure that only the most egregious and potentially dangerous websites are targeted.
In drafting this bill, I have been committed to an open process. I have been open to hearing and addressing concerns from all stakeholders, which is why I have been willing to hold back one of the most significant remedies contained in the bill for future study. That the Senate cannot debate even the most narrowly tailored solutions to this problem is indicative of the political climate we live in today. I will continue to work on solutions to put an end to this rampant theft because it must be stopped.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.
This was my reply:
Thank you for this update Sen. Leahy. As a professional Web content producer, and blogger, I appreciate your effort to secure my intellectual property from foreign theft. However, as difficult as it is to explain, on the Internet, piracy is a good thing. Websites that distribute pirated American intellectual property, are putting it in the hands of people who otherwise wouldn’t pay for it, probably because they couldn’t pay for it. Would Sylvester Stallone begrudge some Iraqi kid his pirated copy of “Rocky?” –Especially where it would cost him a days pay to buy it on Amazon.
Americans invented the Internet, and when you look at the biggest names online, like Wikipedia, Google and Facebook, we pretty much own it too. Americans share our excess with the rest of the world. When it comes to “over flow” American intellectual property, most artists say “let them have it if they can’t afford to pay for it.” It’s an opportunity to offer American knowledge and inspiration to those around the world that can make good use of it, and as artists, be good ambassadors. Those who follow us, support us properly. Remember, Wikipedia runs on all donations. The honor system is working really well in this industry. Let’s not close the doors of this great American digital library to those around the world that can’t afford the price of admission.
As content producers, we all build a following. It helps that list grow when people copy and share our work, without all the hassles of official copyrights, royalties, exclusive licenses, etc. The best thing to happen to the Web, to make all this intellectual property flow as best as possible, is Creative Commons. Check it out, and build it into whatever legislation needs to be passed that will ensure that the original producer of a piece of content gets credit in the form of a byline (preferably with a backlink) Then, their content can be posted, and re-posted, and spread around, and built on, by “pirates with permission” to everyone’s benefit, especially the artists responsible for the original work. Share and share alike. That’s the way to go.
Thank you for listening,
- Senator Isakson’s response, SOPA/PIPA (bahafis.wordpress.com)
- US Senate delays vote on Protect IP Act (pdalbury.wordpress.com)
- Protect IP Author Senator Patrick Leahy Says ‘Further Study’ is Needed (leahy.senate.gov)
- Protect IP Act author backs down on piracy enforcement stipulation (venturebeat.com)
- Breaking: Leahy Recommends Setting Aside Controversial PROTECT-IP Court Provision (readwriteweb.com)
- Internet blacklist power to be stripped from Senate’s PROTECT IP Act (arstechnica.com)
- Key Protect IP backer shies away after discovering risks (electronista.com)
- Thomas Hawk – Google+ (assumedguilty.wordpress.com)