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There is a debate currently raging on Capitol Hill regarding the protection of intellectual property rights, and the so called theft of intellectual property by rogue websites, and foreign manufacturers of knockoff products, that offer products for sale, without paying any royalties to their authors and inventors for their writings and discoveries. There are two Bills working their way through Congress. They are: SB 968 (PIPA) The Protect Intellectual Property Act and HR 3261 (SOPA) The Stop On Line Piracy Act. They are currently still in committee being marked up with amendments. They are concurrent versions of the same Bill, which seeks to offer a legal remedy for the threat posed to American intellectual property rights, that is authorized and protected by our Constitution under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8.
Most of the Senators and Congressmen that I contacted today, whom I respect on Capitol Hill are not publically taking positions on the Bills. That doesn’t demonstrate a whole lot of leadership on the issue, but in their defense, the rather complicated issues behind this legislation are a bit confusing. Those members of Congress include Senator Tom Colburn, Senator Jim Diment, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Darryl Inhoff, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Congressman Stephen King, and Congressman Tom McClintock. However Two Members of Congress that I respect are already publically taking positions on this issue. They are Congressman Ron Paul, and Senator Rand Paul. They are both in front leading, and they are opposed to the Bills in their current form.
In favor of the concurrent Bills are approximately eight Congressmen that you probably never heard of. They are: Lamar Smith, Mark Amodei, Marsha Blackburn, Mary Bono, John Carter, Elton Gallegly, Bob Goodlatt, and Morgan Griffin. Supporting HR 3261 and SB 968 is Hollywood, and ‘Big Pharma’. That can’t be good! Opposed to the Bills are Google, Facebook, Twitter, and most of the companies that provide access to the internet. It seem like this is just a big battle between different liberal giants with conflicting business interests, similar to what occurred between Hollywood and the young television industry in the 1930s and 1940s. But maybe it isn’t. Anyway, it’s going to affect all of us, so we better pay attention!
The way the Bills were originally written, they were encountering quite a lot of opposition. Opponents said that they had gone too far. Last week, specific language in the House Bill, giving the Justice Department and the Attorney General’s Office the power to shut down a website, just accused of on-line piracy, without a court order, was stripped from the Bill. The Senate has done likewise. Also Congressman Lamar Smith has agreed to remove the DNS blocking provision of HR 3261, which provided that domain name servers must remove references to any site that is merely accused of on-line piracy. This provision has been deleted from the House Bill.
It remains to be seen whether or not either of these Bills in their present form will ever make it out of committee. Certainly something needs to be done to protect American intellectual property rights! I think I heard that Wikipedia is going to shut down for a day to protest these Bills in any form! Congressman Darryl Issa is opposed to HR 3261, and he has introduced his own Bill in the House. It is called, The On-Line Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, the OPEN Act, which he believes is a better solution to the problem of internet piracy. Call your Congressman and Senators today and let them know that something at least needs to be done to protect American intellectual property rights! To quote a friend of mine, “The dad gum movie industry, which is behind this, is just unhappy with their declining box office receipts. A much better solution would be for them to just make better movies!” - Thom Harrison
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