01.17.12

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The PROTECT IP Act

“Every year, American businesses and the American economy bleed billions of dollars to online infringement and piracy.  Tomorrow, some U.S.-based websites that will not be affected by the PROTECT IP Act have announced that they will self-censor their content.  At the end of the day, it is still American businesses, American consumers and American workers that are feeling the brunt of this problem.

“We should all be telling Americans about the scope of this problem and the damage it does to our economy.  No one disputes that copyright infringement and counterfeiting on the Internet must be addressed.  We should have an open debate on the PROTECT IP Act.  Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers.  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.

“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.  A foreign rogue website is clearly defined as one that has no real purpose other than infringement.  Theft and fraud on this scale undermines consumer trust in online transactions.  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.

“The Senate will debate this important bill, which has been pending on the Senate’s calendar since May, next week.  I hope all Senators, and all of our partners in the Internet ecosystem, will come together to help create American jobs, promote America’s economy and protect American consumers.”

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