Record industry tells Congress to oppose Issa piracy bill

The Recording Industry Association of America pressed lawmakers on Wednesday to oppose an online piracy bill offered by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) as an alternative to controversial legislation shelved by Congress last month.

The recording industry argues the Issa-Wyden bill should be scrapped because it would do nothing to stop online piracy and could even make the problem worse. 

ADVERTISEMENT
"No legitimate Internet service should profit from illegal activity or lead its users to illegal sites. The OPEN Act does nothing to stop this behavior and may even make the problem worse," the RIAA said in a document being circulated to every member of Congress on Wednesday. 

"It does not establish a workable framework, standards or remedies. It is not supported by those it purports to protect. It needs to be scrapped."

Issa and Wyden offered the OPEN Act last year as an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were heavily supported by the entertainment and content industries. The bills stalled after massive online protests driven by the tech industry over potential censorship online.

ADVERTISEMENT
SOPA and PIPA followed years of heavy lobbying from the entertainment industry, leading some observers to argue the provisions were overly tilted to benefit Hollywood and record companies. The bills would have forced search engines and other web firms to delete links to foreign infringing sites.

In contrast, the OPEN Act would send complaints about foreign rogue websites to the International Trade Commission. Supporters argue the ITC is the proper venue for such disputes and has relevant experience, but the content community claims the ITC moves too slowly and favors tech firms.

Issa criticized the RRIA for its opposition.

“Following its disastrous SOPA campaign, the RIAA’s opposition to the only remaining viable proposal to address Internet piracy is another miscalculation that harms the interests of its members," he said. "In opposing the OPEN Act and refusing to come to the table, the RIAA is sending a mixed message about the urgency of addressing Internet piracy.”

Under OPEN, the ITC would be authorized to force payment processors, ad networks and other sources of revenue to cut ties with rogue sites. Issa and Wyden have suggested that if SOPA and PIPA were completely off the table, the content community might favor OPEN's "follow the money" approach.

But the RIAA's document outlines a number of concerns about the bill, labeling its standards "impossibly high" and "useless."

"Even a site that openly acknowledges it is entirely composed of illegal material is exempt, as long as the material is added or used by others and not the site owner or operator," states the document.

"This excuses willful blindness and outright complicity in illegal activity. In addition, anyone who takes down one illegal file is immune, even if it’s simply reposted minutes later."

Wyden has said he plans to move deliberately on OPEN, likely holding a hearing at some point in the coming weeks.

This story was posted at 11:41 a.m. and updated at 1:39 p.m.