WASHINGTON D.C. – Websites both large and small launched a cyber-protest against the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills on Wednesday.
Well known Internet sites like Wikipedia and Reddit chose to blackout their websites on Jan. 18 as a protest to the Stop Internet Piracy Act and the PROTECT Intellectual Properties Act. Both bills are geared toward curtailing internet piracy and protecting intellectual copyrights. While media and entertainment companies support the measures as a means to protect their intellectual properties, the bills are not without opposition, particularly among web-based companies like Google, Facebook, Mozilla and among others.
There is concern by these companies that the bills will stifle economic growth and innovation.
With the enactment of the online blackout, political leaders in Washington have begun to voice their opinions on the matter.
Where do Utah’s elected representatives stand on the matter?
Sen. Orrin Hatch had been a co-sponsor of PIPA, but withdrew his support Wednesday.
“Our Founding Fathers understood that protecting people’s ideas is essential to a robust and healthy democracy. With the advent of the Internet, intellectual property theft is a real and growing problem that everyone acknowledges must be combated,” Hatch said in a statement. “After listening to the concerns on both sides of the debate over the PROTECT IP Act, it is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward.
“Despite the concerns about the unintended consequences of this legislation, the Senate remains on a path to consider this bill next week. Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support and that’s why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my cosponsorship of the bill. Given the legitimate vocal concerns, it is imperative that we take a step back to allow everyone to come together and find a reasonable solution.”
Sen. Mike Lee:
“While I am sympathetic to the basic objectives of the PROTECT IP Act, I have consistently expressed concern that several of its provisions would threaten Internet security, stifle the free flow of online information, and unduly burden third parties. As a result, I declined to cosponsor this legislation and have worked from the beginning to make critical changes to the bill to resolve these concerns. Unless and until such revisions are made, I will continue to oppose the bill.
“Rather than rush to vote on such deeply flawed legislation, the Senate should carefully discuss and debate how best to protect American intellectual property, preserve Internet security, and promote the free exchange of ideas. I hope and expect that Leaders Reid and McConnell will ensure that we have ample opportunity to explore the issue and attempt to resolve these concerns before the Senate holds a vote.”
Sen. Lee’s full statement
PIPA is set to be voted on in the Senate on Jan. 24.
Representative Rob Bishop:
“One of the driving forces behind the U.S. economy is its ability to protect the property rights of its citizens. Unfortunately, many foreign nations fail to respect those same rights overseas. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) may be a well-intentioned tool to protect intellectual property, but I oppose it in its current form. The Internet has seen an explosion of innovation and growth in large part because it has been void of the heavy hand of the federal government. While I share the goals of protecting the freedom of the Internet and defending the rights of intellectual property owners, I have concerns that SOPA could lead to too much government intervention and control.”
Representative Jim Matheson:
“Intellectual property is an important form of property that should be protected from Internet piracy, but these bills are not the way to go,” said Matheson. “It’s wrong to pass bills that could censor information on the Internet—stifling innovation and interfering with the livelihood of businesses on the Internet. This is a complicated issue, and Congress should obtain much more stakeholder involvement as it addresses the issue.”
Representative Jason Chaffetz has expressed opposition to SOPA/PIPA since December. He has yet to make an official statement on the matter, but tweeted the following:
“I am a NO on SOPA. Appreciate the recognition of my efforts to defeat this bill.”
Despite a withdrawal of support from SOPA and PIPA, issues of copyright infringement remain.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), author of the SOPA bill, said he would continue to fight for a way to protect America’s intellectual properties.
“To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America’s intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy,” Smith said Tuesday.
Smith added, “Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.”
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