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Issa ‘committed’ to blocking anti-piracy bills

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 13:49 EDT
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Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Photo: AFP.
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Appearing on a panel of tech experts and activists opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (SOPA/PIPA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) promised that so long as he’s in Congress, legislation that looks anything like either of those bills will not go through.

“I am committed to not have SOPA or PIPA or anything that looks like it occur, period,” he said.

The California Republican was joined on Tuesday by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Scribd co-founder Jared Friedman and others, in a video conference hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Issa, a leading critic of the legislation, thanked his fellow panelists for standing up against the bills, crediting them with stalling their progression on capitol hill.

“The private right of action, which can easily be misused by people who simply want to prosper, the dependence on the Department of Justice and the attorney general’s office — which is always political and periodically picks winners and losers — all of those things are flawed,” Issa said.

“Last but not least, I don’t think anyone could ask every court judge and every magistrate to try to make these decisions in hopes that as they go through the circuits and to the Supreme Court that they’re gonna get fixed. That only leads to sites being shut down, people’s lives and innovations destroyed while they’re waiting to go through an appellate process.”

He proposed a solution, better known as the OPEN Act, which empowers the International Trade Commission to go after infringing websites’ funding sources.

“If we do anything at all, we have to go with a court that’s well recognized for knowing intellectual property and we have to have a single point where you can watch it and if they make an error it’s easy to see. You can’t do that with hundreds of federal judges.”

The House bill, SOPA, has been indefinitely delayed as its key sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) tweaks the language to remove the most far-reaching regulations. Both the Obama administration and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) have expressed concerns about the bills as well, but Senate Democratic leadership is moving forward with PIPA.

The Senate bill should be out of committee by next week, and could go up for a vote by the Senate at large.

In response, websites like Wikipedia, Reddit, IMGUR, BoingBoing and even The Raw Story will go dark on Wednesday, to illustrate the impact these proposed laws would have on Internet businesses in a still misunderstood economy.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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