Recording industry touts bipartisan support for copyright bill

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Counting Leahy, 22 Democrats, 17 Republicans and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.) have signed on to the bill.

“This analysis demonstrates just how rare it is for legislation in the Senate to have extensive and bipartisan support,” said Cary Sherman, chairman and CEO of RIAA. “When it does happen, it speaks to the common-sense nature of the bill’s underlying purpose. The PROTECT IP Act is about protecting American jobs and creativity, plain and simple, and keeping Americans safe."

The Protect IP Act, which is the Senate counterpart to the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would empower the government and copyright holders to demand that search engines, advertisers and payment processors block access to websites "dedicated to copyright infringement." 

RIAA, the Motion Picture Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce all strongly support the bills, arguing they are necessary to curb online copyright infringement.

Despite the bipartisan support, the legislation has sparked a massive backlash from Internet companies and consumer advocacy groups, who argue the bills would impose unreasonable burdens on websites and could lead to censorship of the Internet. Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Web companies wrote a letter to the top Judiciary Committee lawmakers in both chambers last week, urging them to scrap the bills. 

Tumblr, Firefox and Reddit placed black bars on their websites last week to protest what they say is the bills' potential for censorship.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Protect IP Act in May, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has placed a hold on it, saying it would threaten free speech and stifle innovation.

"The list shows what a big and powerful lobby can do to sell Congress time and again, year after year, on the same discredited theme," said Art Brodsky, a spokesman for consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, which opposes the legislation. "If members of Congress think either of the intellectual property bills are on the same noncontroversial level as a Congressional Gold Medal, then they either aren't listening to the opposition or just don't care."