Wyden: Piracy debate shows Web is catalyst for change

ADVERTISEMENT
"The problem with the approach taken by PIPA and the House, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is that it treats the Internet as if its only purpose was to promote infringement," Wyden added. 

"That approach not only resulted in remedies that would have done irreparable harm to online innovation, openness and free speech, it neglects the considerable opportunities presented by today’s digital economy."

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said Wyden approached him in November looking for a Republican partner with whom to oppose PIPA. Moran said it was quickly clear to him that the legislation would prove damaging to the economy, particularly startups that rely on the Web.

“PIPA had support from many influential senators and powerful interest groups, but the majority leader’s decision to withdraw it from the Senate calendar demonstrates the power of engaged citizens using the Internet," Moran said, calling the public outcry against the bill "historic and significant."

"I expect this threat to resurface, and I will remain vigilant with Sen. Wyden, Congressman [Darrell] Issa [R-Calif.] and others to make certain any bill that is brought up protects a free and open Internet.”

Wyden said proponents of PIPA and SOPA were correct in that online piracy is a problem, they just chose the wrong method to tackle that problem. He said his OPEN Act is a good place to restart the conversation on the issue, but he wants to ensure all sides are able to weigh in with their views.

Wyden noted OPEN employs a "follow the money" approach by cutting off revenue streams to bad actors, a tactic approved by Google and other Web firms. He said his bill would not support a private right of action, censorship or do any damage to the architecture of the Internet.

"There is no question PIPA was a censorship bill," Wyden said. "I think Congress ought to focus on doing no harm."

Moran also noted that technology policy issues are very difficult and complex, in part because the area changes so quickly. He said the rapid pace of change is one reason why lawmakers should be much more methodical than they had been when pushing PIPA through the Senate.

--This post was updated at 4:01 p.m.