Sen. Sherrod Brown [D, OH] Vote on Passage of S.968: Not Voted Yet
As I have outlined in a blog post to my librarian colleagues (http://dltj.org/article/opposing-protect-ip-act/), I have two overriding reasons for opposing this legislation. First, I think the content creation industry already has enough tools in their arsenal (such as the DMCA) for it to go after legitimate infringements of their rights. That aside, there is a more fundamental reason: this law meddles with the foundational structures of the internet (the Domain Name System in particular), and that can have unexpected consequences. The "Cybersecurity in the Balance: Weighing the Risks of the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act" paper from the Brookings Institution goes into more detail about the latter reason. The power of the internet has been — and should continue to be — the transparent, end-to-end nature of the net that enables and promotes creative innovation at the edges of the network. PROTECT-IP and SOPA would add complexity and cloudiness to the core of the internet, and in the end not put a stop to the illegal activity the backers of the bill are seeking to eliminate.
I know you are a co-sponsor of the bill. I urge you to drop your co-sponsorship and join with Senator Wyden and others opposing the bill.
PETER E. MURRAY
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts about legislation to combat online infringement and digital theft.
Last Congress, the Senate considered, but did not pass, legislation entitled the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The aim of this legislation was to assist the Department of Justice in tracking and shutting down "rogue websites." These sites provide unauthorized downloads, streaming, or direct sale of copyrighted material. Similar legislation, entitled the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act, was recently introduced in the Senate. The PROTECT IP Act narrows the definition of "rogue website" in an effort to target only the most egregious purveyors of digital theft and counterfeit crime.
In an age of advancing technology, it is critical we have laws that protect internet users from unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent marketplace practices. Too many consumers today purchase goods over the internet that may pose a significant threat to their health and wellbeing. For example, a consumer may unknowingly purchase counterfeit prescription drugs online that contain incorrect amounts of active ingredients, and thus pose a serious risk to ill individuals.
Additionally, illegal file sharing and unauthorized copying of digital material prevents musicians, producers, filmmakers, software designers, and many others from reaping the fruits of their labor. Such activity has the potential to stifle artistic creativity and compromise electronic innovation. Ultimately, intellectual property theft costs our economy billions of dollars and can result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.
However, I have also heard from individuals with concerns about the scope of this legislation, as well as its First Amendment implications. I take these concerns seriously.
Should this legislation come before the full Senate for a vote, I will keep your views in mind.
Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
United States Senator
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Note to Congressional staff & elected officials reading this: this letter was sent through Contact-Congress features on OpenCongress.org, a free public resource website, but in the future we seek to compel the U.S. Congress to adopt fully open technology for constituent communications. For more information how your office can better handle public feedback through an open API and open standards, contact us -- even today, there are significantly more efficient and responsive ways for our elected officials to receive email feedback than the status quo of individual webforms. For greater public accountability in government, we must make the process of writing one's members of Congress more accessible and empowering. Looking ahead, we will release more data from Contact-Congress letters and Congressional response rates back into the public commons. This will result in a new open data source on bills & issues people care about, as well as encourage best practices in constituent communications and make it possible to grade members of Congress on their responsiveness & citizen satisfaction.