Recording industry dismisses alternate online piracy bill

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) dismissed an alternate online piracy bill from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Wednesday, arguing it is not a “meaningful solution” to the problem of online piracy.

The recording industry is among the strongest supporters of another online piracy bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That legislation would enable the government to force Web firms to delete links to foreign websites dedicated to copyright infringement. 

The tech industry is vehemently opposed to SOPA, arguing it would impose censorship on the Internet and place an undue regulatory burden on Web companies. There have been large-scale protests against SOPA driven by sites like Tumblr, reddit and Wikipedia.

{mosads}House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and other backers of SOPA have accused opponents of engaging in hyperbole and dismissed the claims of censorship as false. The bill and its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, both enjoy strong bipartisan support, with the latter likely to come up for a floor vote in early 2012.

Issa, Wyden and other SOPA critics have offered the OPEN Act as an alternative to SOPA; the bill would send online patent claims against foreign sites to the International Trade Commission. 

But RIAA senior executive vice president Mitch Glazier argued the ITC moves far too slowly to solve the urgent problem of online piracy.

“Every day that these sites operate without recourse can mean millions of dollars lost to American companies, employees, and economy, and an ongoing threat to the security and safety of our citizens,” Glazier said.

“Why in the world would we shift enforcement against these sites from the Department of Justice and others who are well-versed in these issues to the ITC, which focuses on patents and clearly does not operate on the short time frame necessary to be effective?”

He pointed to an important patent infringement claim from Kodak against Apple and Research In Motion as evidence, for which a ruling is anticipated in September. The case was originally filed in January 2010, resulting in a delay of 33 months to resolve “a high-stakes and time-sensitive issue.”

“SOPA was introduced to address the devastating and immediate impact of foreign rogue sites dealing in infringing and counterfeiting works and products,” Glazier added. “More proof why the OPEN Act is not a meaningful solution to a serious problem.”

Update: A spokesman for Issa offered the following response via email: “The RIAA’s argument that Congress should enact a half-baked measure that Internet cyber security experts say won’t work is deeply misguided. Online piracy is not a new problem and by blindly supporting SOPA and PIPA the RIAA hasn’t served its members, who have legitimate concerns, well in this debate. Rather than trying to work collaboratively to address a problem that nearly everyone in Congress agrees exists, the RIAA has cast their lot with a risky my-way-or-the-highway approach that has alienated potential allies and hurt the chances of enacting legislation this Congress.

Their criticisms of the OPEN Act are both short-sighted and inaccurate. They would be better served by working constructively with all Members and groups who care about the problem of online infringement, rather than on moving a deeply flawed proposal that will do harm to the American economy, empower trial lawyers and encourage censorship.”

This post was updated Thursday at 3:38 p.m.

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