PIPA

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Protect IP Act (PIPA or S.968) also known as Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 was a proposed legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy in the United States Senate Committee on Judiciary on May 12, 2011. The bill was initially supported by 40 Senators including Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah),Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa),Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Under the provisions of the bill, the Department of Justice (DOJ) receives the authority to request a court order against suspected foreign websites involved in infringing activities. The Attorney General would then be able to issue directives to search engines, domain name registries, registrars, Internet advertising companies and financial transaction providers to stop doing business with rogue websites.[1] [2]

The proponents of the bill stated that PIPA aims to protect consumers, investments and the jobs associated with the American development of brands and content. They also said that the bill will send a strong message that the United States protects its Intellectual Property rights against entities operating infringing websites and selling or distributing pirated and counterfeit products.[3]

The proposed Protect IP Act just like the Support Online Piracy Act introduced in the House of Representatives, was bipartisan legislation. It has its own supporters as well as opponents.[4]

Supporters

The supporters of the bill said that PIPA is significant legislation to stop foreign owned websites from gaining profits by selling or distributing counterfeited products, thereby protecting consumers. Supporters of the legislation include: [5] [6] Official statements from the PIPA supporters can be found here

  • Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)
  • National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
  • Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA)
  • Directors Guild of America (DGA)
  • American Federation of Musicians (AFM)
  • American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
  • Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)
  • Nashville Songwriters Association International
  • Songwriters Guild of America
  • NBC Universal
  • Viacom
  • National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
  • Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
  • Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)
  • Macmillan Publishers
  • Acushnet
  • Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
  • Copyright Alliance
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Opposition

PIPA it not supported by many individuals, organizations and large technology companies, internet engineers and security experts, venture capitalist and civil libertarian communities and internet users because of the proposed strategies to be used against suspected infringing websites.

Security Experts Technical Concerns on DNS Filtering Provision

In May 2011, internet security experts, including Steve Crocker, CEO of Shinkuro Inc., and Chairman of the ICANN board; David Dagon, DNS post-doctoral researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology; Dan Kaminsky, security researcher for Fortune 500 companies such as Cisco and Microsoft; Danny McPherson, Chief Security Officer for Verisign and Paul Vixie, founder of Internet Systems Consortium sent a White Paper to the members of the Senate explaining how PIPA's DNS related provisions will cause harmful effects to the security and technical stability of the current Internet architecture. They encouraged lawmakers to scrap the DNS filtering provisions---Section 3(d)(II)(A)(ii) as stipulated in the proposed bill- because it was not compatible with the end-to-end implementations of DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), a DNS security extension which allows certain information to be signed cryptographically providing secure authentication of Internet assets.[7]

On January 12, 2012, Senator Patrick Leahy stated that the DNS blocking provision of the bill is a highly technical issue and he is prepared to recommend a further study to weigh the impact of the provision before implementing it.[8]

Senator Ron Wyden Against PIPA

Senator Ron Wyden promised that he would filibuster in the Senate floor against the bill. According to him, "I will be working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle over the next month to explain the basis for this widespread concern, and I intend to follow through on a commitment that I made more than a year ago, to filibuster this bill when the Senate returns in January." [9] Wyden is proposing the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) as an alternative legislation to resolve the issues raised under SOPA and PIPA. OPEN also aims to resolve IP infringement but it will not use black listing and censorship to protect intellectual property right, instead it will will expand the capability of the ITC to investigate infringement.[10]

Net Coalition Against PIPA

The Net Coalition led by Markham Erickson is composed of different companies, web founders, public interest groups, non-profit and advocacy organizations and think tanks, industry associations, websites and online service providers, Internet engineers and cybersecurity experts, academia and many other organizations. Below is a partial list of members from the net Net Coalition. A complete list can be found here

The Obama Administration's Stand on PIPA

In response to the "Stop the E-PARASITE Act" and "Veto the SOPA" online petitions, Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff issued an official statement regarding the Obama Administration's stand on PIPA and SOPA. According the to the White House, it will not support a bill that will undermine the freedom of expression and innovation of the global internet and increase cybersecurity risk. The Obama administration also encouraged all internet stakeholders, including content creators and internet service providers, to work together to develop measures to effectively combat online piracy. Furthermore, the White House promised to keep working with Congress to achieve bipartisan legislation that "provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation." [11]

PIPA Support Collapse in the Senate

Nineteen lawmakers in the Senate expressed their opposition to PIPA, joining Senators Ron Wyden, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul and Mark Warner. Seven of the new opponents of the bill were former co-sponsors. Many of the lawmakers cited legitimate concerns as the main reason for dropping their support on PIPA.[12]

On January 13, 2012, Senators Charles Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn, Mike Lee and Tom Coburn, expressed their concern to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that the Protect IP Act is "moving too quickly." According to the senators, the concerns and issues including risks on cybersecurity, damages to the Internet architecture, costly and burdensome litigation and dilution of First Amendment rights should be addressed first before bringing the bill to Senate floor for a vote. The senators pointed out that the bill should be "fully debated and amendments not limited."[13]

Blackout Protest

On January 18, 2012 more than 115,000 websites participated in the 12 hour blackout protest against PIPA and SOPA. The blackout protest was first initiated by Reddit, which was supported by other tech company giants such as Google and Wikipedia. During the blackout, the websites went dark or provided information or link about the two legislation. [14] [15] [16]

Senate Delays Vote on PIPA

Following the blackout protest and collapse of support from legislators in the upper chamber, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to postpone the scheduled vote for PIPA. Reid explained that the concerns raised against the bill should be addressed. He remains optimistic that the Senate will be able to reach a compromise agreement to resolve the issues.[17]

References

  1. Bill Summary & Status S.968
  2. Proposed Protect IP Act of 2011
  3. Leahy, Hatch, Grassley Unveil Targeted Bill To Counter Online Infringement
  4. Senate will vote next month on Protect IP copyright bill
  5. PIPA Supporters
  6. BROAD CREATIVE INDUSTRY COALITION PRAISES SENATE INTRODUCTION OF BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO FIGHT ONLINE THEFT
  7. and Other Technical Concerns Raised by the DNS Filtering Requirements in the PROTECT IP Bill
  8. Author of Controversial Piracy Bill Now Says ‘More Study’ Needed
  9. Press Release of Senator Wyden
  10. Wyden, Moran, Cantwell Introduce IP Protection Bill that Will Not Break the Net
  11. Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet
  12. PIPA support collapses, with 13 new Senators opposed
  13. Letter from 6 Senators Telling Reid NOT to Schedule a Vote on Internet Blacklist Bill (aka PIPA)
  14. Stopped they must be; on this all depends
  15. The January 18 Blackout Strike
  16. Wikipedia Blackout: 11 Huge Sites Protest SOPA, PIPA On January 18
  17. After an Online Firestorm, Congress Shelves Antipiracy Bills
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