Sen. Wyden places hold on second Internet censorship law

From Raw Story (h/t Dictynna):

A U.S. Senator from Oregon has once again taken a stand against his own party to defend what he sees as the inherent right to free speech on the Internet, placing a hold on a bill that could force search engines and Internet service providers to block websites deemed to be “infringing” on copyrights.

The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act — or “PROTECT IP” for short was part of a second attempt to pass provisions of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which failed to clear Congress during its last session thanks to a parliamentary maneuver by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

And once again, Wyden has stepped forward to ensure those measures do not pass.

The article notes that “Internet freedom advocates claim the proposed laws could be used to shut down websites that link to other websites that authorities claim to be carrying out infringing activities.”

For more on CIOCA, see here and here. These moves by copyright and IP holders are becoming increasingly and intrusively aggressive.

As evidence, I offer and These domains created no content, as near as I could tell. But they linked to sites that offered sports television over the Internet, and those links were on a game-by-game basis. So, for example, if you didn’t want to subscribe to cable, but wanted to watch ESPN games, you could go to one of these sites, peruse the list of links, choose your game and source, click and watch. Sometimes several sources offered the same game, and you had several links to choose from.

Again, neither of these sites generated the video. They merely offered links to other sites that did. Those other sites perhaps violated intellectual property rights; these sites certainly did not.

Now go ahead and click the links for those sites, and see what happened to them. Yep, that’s the Homeland Security logo.

Three guesses when both of these seizures occurred. If you said “Right before the Super Bowl,” America’s ad and money feast with a football game inside, you wouldn’t be wrong. Homeland Security, the counter-terrorism arm of our national security state, is helping to seize small-people’s property (those sites were property) in order to protect the profits and property of billionaire sports owners and the advertisers who love them.

So you can see where Internet freedom is headed. I’ll reiterate that these sites provide only links to other sites. As Wyden said in his prepared statement (click and scroll down to read it):

PIPA’s prescription takes an overreaching approach to policing the Internet when a more balanced and targeted approach would be more effective. The collateral damage of this approach is speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.

Without Wyden’s hold, the bill would have passed. So good on Sen. Wyden for putting the brakes on this stuff.

A second point — I’ve been watching Wyden for a while. I’m developing a list of known-good progressives, and several people with decent public reputations are actually questionable. Ron Wyden ran an aggressive shirt-sleeves & baseball-cap campaign in 2010 in a barely contested race. He appeared to be inoculating himself against something, but I couldn’t figure out what.

Wyden seems to be a progressive. Is he a reliable part of the progressive coalition? This will help move him into the Yes column. Thank you, Senator. More of our people should be using these holds.


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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