Sen. Rand Paul launches petition to kill online piracy bills

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The content industry claims the bills are necessary to ensure search providers like Google do their fair share to discourage piracy, which cut into U.S. firms' profits. But the tech industry has struck back, arguing the bills would impose an undue burden on their businesses and jeopardize free speech.

Paul is not one of the announced co-sponsors of the alternate piracy bill expected to be unveiled this week by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

That bill would rely on the International Trade Commission to handle copyright claims and focus on payment processors and ad networks, exempting search providers and other Web firms from having to take action.

Update: House Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith sent the follow statement in response: “We don’t need a petition to kill a proposal to prevent intellectual property theft online. We need a petition to put a stop to rogue foreign websites that steal products, profits and jobs that rightly belong to American innovators. Rogue websites not only steal movies and music, they offer counterfeit medicine, automobile parts and even baby food, which harm American industries and put American lives at risk."

“The recently introduced manager’s amendment takes into consideration legitimate and technical concerns with the original draft of the bill. The proposed changes in the manager’s amendment reflect conversations with representatives from companies like Microsoft and Facebook and make clear that the legislation specifically targets the worst-of-the-worst foreign rogue websites. Legitimate and lawful websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have nothing to worry about under this bill.

“Claims that this bill would give the Administration the authority censor the Internet are demonstrably false. The Stop Online Piracy Act does not give unilateral authority to the Justice Department or ‘movie studios’ to shut down foreign rogue websites. On the contrary, the bill authorizes only the Justice Department to seek a court order to block a foreign infringing site. If a judge agrees, then a court order can be issued authorizing the Justice Department to seek an order to have the site blocked or have financial ties severed. This bill affords the same due process protections provided in all civil litigation in federal courts.

“Freedom is impossible without the rule of law, and this bill ensures Americans are protected from foreign criminals on the Internet. The Stop Online Piracy Act is not more ‘big government’ – it’s more jobs for American workers and profits for American innovators.”

This post was updated at 6:28 p.m.