Saturday, January 21, 2012

UPDATE: More Congressional Responses

Coming in thick and fast! ... with all this pedaling, maybe we should hook up a generator to Congress and solve the energy crisis!
First an update from Mikulski where she claims that copyright still "needs to be strengthened" somehow... bunkum.
Sarbanes responded yesterday as well. As is typical with most members of the present government, they somehow feel the need to create a "regulatory framework" for everything to make sure that they can acquire some method of leverage or control.

Dear Mr. ______:

Knowing of your recent interest in the PROTECT IP Act (S.938), I am writing to update you on the status of this bill.

I am happy that the Senate will not vote on this bill in the coming days.  While illegal downloading of movies, TV shows and music is a serious issue, the solution can't be worse than the problem. Any efforts to strengthen the protection of copyrighted materials must be well planned, avoid unintended consequences, and must not stifle free speech or innovation.

I will not vote for the PROTECT IP Act in its current form. I believe in the Constitution and free speech. Congress needs to go back to the drawing board to fix the problems with the bill.

Knowing of your views is helpful to me, and I will keep them in mind as Congress continues to debate this issue.

Thanks once again for writing.  Please let me know if I can be of assistance in the future.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator
Dear Mr. _______:

Thankyou for contacting me to express your concerns about H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.

I believe that SOPA in its currentform is unworkable. The internet has been a vital tool for innovation, creativity and economic growth for individuals and communities. I believe that it is critical we put in place an online regulatory framework that ensures the relationship between online consumers and industry is fair and equitable -- all the while ensuringwe do not unintentionally stifle the ingenuity and openness that has enabled the internet and online commerce to thrive. However, online piracy is a real problem and internet commerce should not be a mechanism for abusive business practices, violations of individual privacy rights or copyright infringement. To that end, I strongly believe intellectual property and privacy laws should apply to all forms of commerce.

H.R. 3261 would authorize the Department of Justice or a copyright or trademark holder to seek a court order blocking a rogue site committing or facilitating online piracy.  It would also require online service providers, Internet search engines, payment network providers and Internet advertising services to carry out certain preventative measures including withholding services or blocking access to infringing sites. In particular, I believe the legislation, as written, is overly broad and could place unintended limits on free speech and threaten legitimate web sites. As this legislation proceeds, it will be critical that we settle on a policy that strikes the right balance between the protection of online intellectual property and the promotion of an open and free internet. SOPA has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.  Although I do not serve on this committee, I will be sure to keep your views in mind should the full House of Representatives consider H.R. 3261 or other relevant legislation. 

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Please do not hesitate to contact me about other issues of concern to you in the future.

John Sarbanes
Member of Congress

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