Monday, December 26, 2011

Ron Wyden's alternative to SOPA and PIPA

One way to show your opposition to bills you don't like is to release your own alternative bill. Of course, this only works for 535 people, but Senator Ron Wyden is one of those people.

You remember Ron Wyden. He's the guy that took ads in the Reed College Quest in 1980 when he was challenging an incumbent Democrat in a primary. The result was a "Draw Ronnie" contest, in which people decorated Ron's face with various adornments. Despite this, Wyden won election to the House, and later won Bob Packwood's Senate seat.

So what does Wyden's bill do that the other two don't? This is what he said:

Wyden says the Smith and Leahy bills go too far by requiring IP providers, networks, and other third parties to cease linking to these websites, potentially disrupting the thriving Internet business and threatening free speech. Wyden warns that the proposals would reverse current laws that protects sites such as Google, YouTube and Facebook from sanction if they move quickly to remove protected material put on the sites by a third party.

If either of the other bills pass Wyden says, it "means we're going back and starting to unravel some of the major decisions that were made 15 years ago that have been so key to the growth of online commerce and innovation and the openness of the Net. That's why I consider this one of the most important issues on the technology side to come down in a long time."

And Wyden, in battling his opponents, cites history:

"Jack Valenti (former head of the Motion Picture Association of America) at one point said that the VCR was to the movie industry what the Boston Strangler was to women home alone," Wyden said, recalling the early 1980s when the industry was strenuously fighting movies on videotape.

"When you think about it, the VCR was a huge boon to the movie industry," Wyden said. "It made them a boatload of money."

Meanwhile, Wyden is using a Senate filibuster to tie up consideration of Leahy's rule. Now most people oppose a Senator's filibuster power - that is, until a Senate filibuster is used to promote something with which THEY agree.

Let's see what happens.

P.S. I'm starting to plan some of my blog posts for the beginning of 2012, and I'm presently conceiving a series, under the empo-tymshft label, which will look at the history of Usenet and the World Wide Web. Don't you dare miss it!
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