Further Evidence that Sen. Patrick Leahy Can’t Quit PIPA

If you need further proof that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.) is not going to give up on the idea of a SOPA or PIPA style law, then you need look no further than a letter he sent to a constituent, who also happens to be a regular GamePolitics reader.

Vermont resident Brad Williams sent his senator a letter expressing his deep concerns about the Protect IP act.

"I'm a Vermont resident who was incensed to learn that Senator Leahy was PIPA's sponsor and sent him an e-mail informing him as such," Bard Williams told us in an email. "I've attached the e-mail I received back from him (or his office, not sure which) where he defends the bill. That he would want to revisit it is not at all surprising, but it does make me extremely upset and furthers my desire to see him unseated (unfortunately the next time he will be up for reelection is 2016."

And here is what Senator Leahy (or someone from his office) told Mr. Williams:

Dear Mr. Williams:

Thank you for contacting me about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

The growth of the digital marketplace is extraordinary and it gives creators and producers new opportunities to reach consumers, but it also brings with it the perils of piracy and counterfeiting. The increased usage and accessibility of the Internet has transformed it into the new Main Street. Internet purchases have become so commonplace that consumers are less wary of online shopping and therefore more easily victimized by online products that are unsafe or stolen. Online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost the American economy billions of dollars. This is unacceptable in any economic climate, but it is devastating today.

I introduced the bipartisan PROTECT IP Act on May 12, 2011, and the full Senate was set to begin consideration of it on January 24, 2012. Unfortunately, debate on this important bill has been postponed. It is disappointing that the Senate could not proceed to debate solutions to a problem on which there is consensus – that the theft of American intellectual property by foreign websites devastates our economy.

The PROTECT IP Act is a balanced solution that gives law enforcement the tools to go after foreign websites that do nothing but steal our intellectual property. Websites that engage in this behavior in the United States are subject to a number of remedies, including copyright infringement lawsuits, Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices, and even civil forfeiture of domain names. Meanwhile, foreign websites can steal American intellectual property without fear of recourse as they exist beyond the scope of American laws. It is unacceptable that we have a system in place that treats foreign websites engaged in criminal activity better than we treat American sites that do the same.

The PROTECT IP Act targets only the worst of the worst foreign websites, those that have no significant use other than infringement. I support this narrow definition of a rogue website even though it would allow many websites outside of the United States that engage in the theft of American intellectual property to continue to reach the U.S. market. In my view it is important to have a narrow definition, as well as explicitly include significant due process protections for websites, because these are safeguards that will prevent abuse and ensure that only the most egregious and potentially dangerous websites are targeted.

In drafting this bill, I have been committed to an open process. I have been open to hearing and addressing concerns from all stakeholders, which is why I have been willing to hold back one of the most significant remedies contained in the bill for future study. That the Senate cannot debate even the most narrowly tailored solutions to this problem is indicative of the political climate we live in today. I will continue to work on solutions to put an end to this rampant theft because it must be stopped.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please keep in touch.

United States Senator

What we can't quite understand is why the good Senator from the great state of Vermont would want to continue a fight that he will likely lose. Can't he just hide his agenda in a rider on some other bill like everyone else does these days in Washington?

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