OVERNIGHT TECH: Leahy: Anti-piracy bill critics ‘flatly wrong’

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), sponsor of controversial anti-online piracy legislation, pushed back against websites planning to shut down on Wednesday in protest of his bill. 

“Much of what has been claimed about the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act is flatly wrong and seems intended more to stoke fear and concern than to shed light or foster workable solutions. The PROTECT IP Act will not affect Wikipedia, will not affect reddit, and will not affect any website that has any legitimate use,” Leahy said in a statement Tuesday. 

{mosads}”Perhaps if these companies would participate constructively, they could point to what in the actual legislation they contend threatens their websites, and then we could dispel their misunderstandings. That is what debate on legislation is intended to do, to fine-tune the bill to confront the problem of stealing while protecting against unintended consequences.”

Wikipedia and discussion board reddit will shut down for 24 hours on Wednesday and display only a message criticizing the piracy legislation. Thousands of smaller websites have also promised to participate.

Google will post a banner opposing the bill, but won’t block access to its search engine.

“Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers,” Leahy said. “Protecting foreign criminals from liability rather than protecting American copyright holders and intellectual property developers is irresponsible, will cost American jobs, and is just wrong.”

The Protect IP Act and its House counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), are designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows with impunity. The bills would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say the law is necessary to curb online copyright infringement, which is hurting businesses and destroying jobs.

But consumer groups and Web companies warn the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech. They say the legislation would impose an unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content and could lead to legitimate websites getting shut down.

The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation next week. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has said he will try to move the bill through his committee next month.

Sen. Brown comes out against online piracy bill: Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) announced his opposition to the anti-online piracy legislation on Tuesday.

“I’m going to vote NO on #PIPA and #SOPA. The Internet is too important to our economy,” Brown wrote on Twitter.

Six GOP senators wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week urging him to delay the bill, but he plans to bring it to a vote next week.


The House has launched a new website offering public access to legislation under consideration as part of an ongoing effort to increase transparency.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, called Wikipedia’s plan to temporarily shut down on Wednesday to protest his bill a “publicity stunt.”

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