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Congressional Leaders Intro Massive E-PARASITE Act

October 27, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Powerful House Republicans and Democrats have taken two of the most unpopular bills in the Senate, combined them into one big bill, and amended them to make them even worse. Oh, and they gave the whole thing a new name — the E-PARASITE Act.

The bill combines S.978, opposed by 99% of OpenCongress users (19 in favor/1691 opposed), and S.968, opposed by 96% of users (13 in favor/287 opposed).

S.978 is the bill that would make it a felony to stream unauthorized copyrighted content over the web, with a penalty of up to five years in prison. As many internet rights groups have noted, the bill is so broadly written that it could put people in jail for things like performing cover songs on YouTube or having the wrong song in the background of your video. In the Senate version, illegal streaming of copyrighted content would have to consist of “10 or more public performances.” The new House versions revises that down to “1 or more public performances.” If this becomes law and you accidentally post copyrighted material to YouTube, you better figure it out quick and take it down before you get a single view.

S.968 is the “internet blacklist” bill that would give the Justice Department new power to block access to websites that they determine to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” Under the new House bill, the language describing which sites the government could shut down is expanded to any sites they think have “only limited purpose or use other than infringing.” Do you trust the government to determine that all the legal sharing on services like Dropbox and Rapidshare is of more than “limited” purpose?

The two Senate bills have already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and are set for passage on the Senate floor. The new House bill is sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith [R, TX-21], and co-sponsored by the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14], and a hearing is already scheduled for November 16. Expect this to be given priority rush treatment.

We’ll have more on this bill soon. For now, check out this great video about the bill from Fight for the Future and Kirby Ferguson (btw, the video is about S.968, which intellectual property rights advocates say is less oddensive than the new House bill):


PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Full disclosure: I am a board member for Fight for the Future.

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