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Public Knowledge Statement: Start Over On Anti-Piracy Legislation

BY Nick Judd | Friday, January 20 2012

Public Knowledge legal director Harold Feld says, in a statement, that Congress should start from scratch on anti-piracy legislation to replace a now-stalled pair of bills in the Senate and House. Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that Senate legislation would be delayed, and Rep. Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas, House Judiciary Committee chairman and the key sponsor of related House legislation, also agreed to postpone movement on his bill, too. House Speaker John Boehner had previously called for "consensus" on the bill before bringing it to the floor.

Here's Feld:

“Now that the current bills have been dropped in both the Senate and House, Congress should start from scratch to determine the nature of the problem. No one has been able to figure out how the media companies calculated their supposed losses of jobs and income. If Congress goes ahead with legislation, it should hear widely from those concerned about the pending legislation – from Internet technologists, from law professors, artists, venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, human rights activists, consumers and even public interest groups and the public. Only then will legislation be truly accepted and truly be effective."

Here's the statement in full:

“House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith was correct to abandon his Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation.

“As we said in response to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision not to hold a vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act, this is a wake-up call for Congress to abandon business as usual. Internet Blackout Day showed that people all across the country, and around the world, are watching and engaged in what is going on in Washington as Congress debates its Internet bills. Simply tinkering with the details of this bill, or of its House companion, is not the way to go. Neither is a ‘summit’ between the Big Media companies and tech companies. Nor should there be a ‘stacked’ hearing that Smith’s committee held, which ignored the real concerns from many sectors about the real harms his bill would generate.”

“Now that the current bills have been dropped in both the Senate and House, Congress should start from scratch to determine the nature of the problem. No one has been able to figure out how the media companies calculated their supposed losses of jobs and income. If Congress goes ahead with legislation, it should hear widely from those concerned about the pending legislation – from Internet technologists, from law professors, artists, venture capitalists, startup entrepreneurs, human rights activists, consumers and even public interest groups and the public. Only then will legislation be truly accepted and truly be effective.

“The public owes a great deal of gratitude to work and dedication of the House champions in opposition to SOPA -- Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jared Polis (D-CO), as well as many of their colleagues who opposed the House bill on both sides of the aisle, from around the country, who highlighted the dangers the bill would cause to the cybersecurity of the Internet and of the potentials for abuse of giving content companies the power to enforce the law on their own.”