Both parties for freedom

The advent of the Internet has unleashed a sea change upon Hollywood and the music industry. From Napster to YouTube to Torrent, new technologies that empower the free flow of information have also enabled copyright piracy. But over the last decade, the influential RIAA and MPAA have adapted, and have secured powerful tools to police their copyrights in the online world, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 

Still, as long as anyone can post anything they wish online, there will always be some infringement — especially given what the music and film industries often consider infringement (including 30-second videos of babies dancing to Prince). 

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So naturally, the RIAA and MPAA have determined that the sensible thing is to shut down the social Internet altogether. 

In the upper chamber, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate committee ignores Trump, House budgets in favor of 2017 funding levels Live coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators AT&T, senators spar over customers' right to sue MORE (D-Vt.) is carrying Big Content’s water with the Protect IP Act, while Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is pushing the companion bill in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act. 

No one disputes the value of stopping rogue foreign sites from hosting infringing material without fear of legal consequences. But that’s not what the overbroad language of the proposed bills would do. 

These bills would allow copyright holders to demand that payment providers such as Visa cut off funding for allegedly infringing websites, while providing the accused sites just five days to respond. No court order would be required. In addition, the U.S. government could order Internet providers to block any site for users — again, without judicial review.

Furthermore, the definition of “infringement” in the bills is so broad that any site with user-generated content would be at risk, from the smallest bloggers to such social giants as Twitter and Facebook. 

That’s why Silicon Valley — from Tumblr to Zynga, Sound Forge to Reddit, Microsoft to Google, Yahoo to eBay, AOL to LinkedIn — has lined up uniformly against the bill. These companies realize — without a shred of hyperbole — that if this bill becomes a law, their future and that of the entire social Internet will be gravely endangered. 

Indeed, the entire ethos of the Internet — as an open platform to share, collaborate and participate — is at stake.

For some time, it seemed as if the bipartisan Internet-killing measure was on a fast track, greased with $90 million in lobbyist boodle, to the president’s desk. But Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenTrump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate Dem senator questions Justice Department on warrantless surveillance FCC says it cannot provide more proof of claimed cyberattack MORE (D-Ore.) emerged as a one-man roadblock, threatening to filibuster the bill should it reach the Senate floor. Such tactics could run out a full week of the Senate’s clock — precious time, given how little is left this calendar year. And Wyden has lined up his own bipartisan set of allies — Democratic Sen. Maria CantwellMaria CantwellOvernight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M fine | Deputy Interior pick advances | Oil concerns hold up Russia sanctions push Dem to seek investigation into Interior staff reassignments Senate advances controversial Trump Interior nominee MORE (Wash.) and Republican Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulPaul says president likely has authority to pardon himself Paul still supports repealing, replacing ObamaCare at the same time Trump's DOJ gears up for crackdown on marijuana MORE (Ky.) and Jerry MoranJerry MoranThe Memo: Trump tries to bend Congress to his will Tensions linger between Trump and GOP lawmakers Trump plays hardball on ObamaCare repeal MORE (Kan.). 

In the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) opposition to the bill is joined by hard-line Republicans including Reps. Ron Paul (Texas), Michele BachmannMichele BachmannBachmann: Muslim immigrants trying to undermine Western civilization Religious leaders pray over Trump in Oval Office 'Real Housewives' producer 'begging' Conway to join cast MORE (Minn.) and Darrell Issa (Calif.). Strange bedfellows, indeed!

There’s simply nothing partisan about this issue. Social media have been critical to both the Tea Party and Occupy movements, to trade unionists and anti-abortion groups alike. The question isn’t whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, it’s whether you prize freedom of speech and freedom of the press for all, over the narrow intellectual-property concerns of a few.

So members of Congress must now decide where they stand — with Hollywood studios, or with a free, open, people-empowered Internet. Americans expect despotic regimes to try to shut down sites that allow user-generated content — they don’t expect it at home.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).