Anti-Piracy: The Election Year Hot Potato

This Politico story points out that anti-piracy legislation may be the hottest of hot potatoes in the 2012 election cycle, and while lawmakers promise progress in the not-too-distant future, the likelihood of anything getting through either legislative bodies is highly unlikely.

“Going into an election year, there’s going to be a lot of [reluctance] to do anything that can end up being an unnecessary battle,” a Republican House aide told POLITICO. “It became a political hot potato.”

Last week at the annual GOP retreat Republican leaders agreed that pursing anything related to anti-piracy would be a mistake because it divides the party.

And even as the prospects of revising or reworking both SOPA and PIPA are being talked about by their respective sponsors, the chances of that happening are somewhere between slim and none. On the Senate floor Monday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) vowed not to back down from the fight. The author of the PROTECT IP Act said he is working with Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to craft some sort of compromise.

“My hope is that after a brief delay, we will, together, confront this problem,” Leahy said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) have the OPEN Act, which was presented as an alternative to SOPA and PIPA. Even the prospects of that bill being pushed are unknown at this time.

If something is going to happen with that bill, many expect the first move will be made by Wyden because he is the chairman of the Senate Finance subcommittee on international trade.

“We think OPEN is a promising alternative, but we’re not going to try to pass it in the next 15 minutes,” Wyden told POLITICO last week. “Our idea is not to reject a one-sided bill and then automatically say, ‘Let’s pass our bill.’”

Meanwhile, the entertainment and tech industries are still blaming each other over the bills that were almost fast-tracked through both chambers of Congress:

“Now we have a chance to step back and work as partners to fix the problem,” said Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition. “It [depends] on whether they’re going to come work or try to muscle legislation through again.”

A Recording Industry Association of America spokesman said the tech industry needs to dial back the rhetoric if the issue of IP theft is going to be seriously addressed.

“That’s not a healthy thing for an honest debate about ideas, and it’s a dangerous precedent that responsible technology firms might someday regret,” spokesman Jonathan Lamy said. “We take critics at their word that they do genuinely care about this issue, and we look forward to working with them.”

At the end of the day it is clear that everyone involved in the process is a bit gun-shy after the blackout protests last week. This is probably a good thing because any future bills have to take into account the reservations of tech companies and net denizens concerned about the unintended consequences on free speech.

Source: Politico. Image Credit


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