Two Senators Change Tune On Online Piracy Legislation

As you may have noticed, the Internet isn’t happy with proposed anti-piracy legislation before Congress and the Senate that could have a huge impact on everything from e-commerce to your 13-year-old niece’s Glee fan blog. And as the voices continue to grow louder in opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills, some law makers are already switching sides.

Earlier this morning, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who was actually a co-sponsor of the PIPA legislation, pulled a complete 180 and came out against the bill. Likewise, Texas Senator John Cornyn has asked his fellow lawmakers to think a little longer about these particular proposals.

According to the NY Times, Sen. Cornyn posted on his Facebook page that it was “better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the Internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.”

Meanwhile, on Sen. Rubio’s Facebook page, he wrote, “As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs. However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies…

“I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor… Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

Web Protests Piracy Bills, and 2 Senators Change Course [NY Times]

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  1. midwestkel says:

    He’s pushing hard for re-election.

    • little stripes says:

      The fact that they have to speak out against SOPA to “push hard for re-election” is actually a good sign, I think. It means that politicians are becoming aware that our feelings on this matter, and our VOTES, matter.

      • midwestkel says:

        See I feel they should be aware of this stuff all the time, who over seriously thought this would be accepted while they were writing this crap?

        I’m happy that people are backing out of supporting the bill, I’m pissed that these people are only backing out of it after the massive publicity it’s getting today…

        • plasmatop says:

          It’s classic politics. I don’t think anyone ever expected this crap to get passed. But if you introduce an amazingly outrageous bill first, the chances of getting the actual bill you want passed go way up. This will not die with the death of SOPA or PIPA. Instead, new legislation will be introduced that is essentially “SOPA Light” and/or “PIPA Light.” Everyone will be so relieved the first round got smashed that they will be more likely to pass something not as severe.

          Bills like these don’t just get squashed. The members of Congress want this. They don’t care about what the people want. The only way to make sure this goes away for good is to get these jokers out of Washington for good.

          • Damocles57 says:

            I agree with your sense that the forces behind these bills will regroup and reintroduce slightly less offensive versions of the same bills.

            However, I don’t agree with your last sentence about getting the current crop of jokers out of Washington is the answer. The problem is that the whole of Washington politics is structured on electing and grooming and controlling jokers. A new crop of jokers will not be any better than the crop they replaced.

            It is the system that needs to be modified to discourage or prevent the type of operational issues we see and reduce or eliminate the problems it creates.

            This, I believe, is the real underlying reason the power elite want to control the internet. Fifty years ago the powerful controlled the media, entertainment, and all mass communication which made it easy for them to control and exploit the masses who lacked the means to fully understand or fight the system. Now, however, the masses can communicate directly with each other, compare notes across geographies, monitor the activities of our elected officials, and organize rapidly to counteract the lies and misinformation spread by the powerful.

            I am sure they are scared and desperate and willing to say and do anything to retain the power they once enjoyed. Unfortunately, for them, the genie is out of the bottle.

        • mikedt says:

          “who over seriously thought this would be accepted while they were writing this crap?”

          That presupposes that our elected officials actually write bills anymore. I’m pretty sure the current process is for a lobbyist to write the bill, hand it to a congressional aid with a note saying they’ll donate several hundred grand to the Senator’s SuperPac if he sponsors this.

        • Jawaka says:

          I agree. All humans should be perfect.

    • OrlandoDude says:

      Nice try- but he’s not up for re-election until 2016.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    And now he gets to tote that he was for consumers all along.

    • Taylor Rolyat says:

      He’s not toting (sp?) that he was for them all along, he’s toting the fact that he’s listened to the people and seen that many are opposed to the bill in its current form. Why is it that every time a politician responds to voters, they get critiqued for changing a position only to get votes, while if they stick to a position due to their strongly held personal political beliefs even if it’s unpopular, they get get critiqued for NOT listening to the people. Because people always want to complain about the body politic, I suppose? Ho hum…

      • Marlin says:

        Maybe because they are sent to congress to represent us, not specials interest groups and then after the fact represent us when we start screaming.
        If he had put voter’s first and not large corps he would not have to pull a 180 hypocrite move now.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          Changing one’s mind or changing sides on an issue does not make one a hypocrite.

          Oh wait, this was a Republican. Carry on.

          • Marlin says:

            Facts are he was FULLY in support of this when Corps and special interest were spending money.

            He only came out against it once the heat and voters spoke.

            Only reason he is against it is the heat was more than the money. Perfect example of a hypocrite that ran on “representing the people of Florida…”

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Yours words put a damper on my heart. It makes it seem like citizens are in a constant battle AGAINST their own representatives, who simply represent corporations.

              Not saying you’re wrong in any way. It just makes me sad.

      • Rachacha says:

        In this situation, the complaints against the bills have been going on for quite some time, the Anti SOPA/PIPA Drum has not stopped and has not changed its beat, but it was only after the blackout day when many websites are “down” and the complaints and awareness have spiked that the Congressman steps back and thinks that we perhaps should look at this again.

        If he had come out earlier and said that he consulted with technical experts as well as the industries that are in support of the bill and now understands that the bill has some flaws that need to be worked out and that he will work with stakeholders on both sides to modify the bill or if appropriate, kill the bill.

        • SteveZim1017 says:

          we may never know his “true” motives. but regardless, and even if its only for an official stance, thats one more person on our side and one less on theirs.

          thats good enough for me.

  3. Rachacha says:

    “”better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong…”

    So when is Congress going to apply that same logic to everything that they do?

    • plasmatop says:

      I want to say it will happen when the people fight back like they’re doing now.

      But, when you look at what’s happening, the peoples’ voice isn’t what is having an effect. It’s other big businesses that are opposed. If all these huge companies weren’t so active in protesting SOPA/PIPA there would be absolutely nothing to stop these two bills from being passed. Make no mistake, the everyday Joe’s voice is still not being heard.

  4. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    http://reyes.house.gov/

    REYES STATEMENT ON THE STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT

    Washington, D.C., Jan 18 – Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) today released the following statement regarding his position on the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA:

    “The Internet is a powerful tool that has changed the way we communicate. As with every powerful tool, it has the potential for good and bad. As your federal representative, I will continue to work to ensure that our community has both access to the Internet and the security tools needed to safeguard our communities, especially children, from inappropriate and unsuitable material.

    “Any legislation that aims to curtail online piracy and enhance security must take a balanced and fine-tuned approach. The current version of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, does not take a balanced approach. For that reason, I cannot support SOPA and will oppose it in its current form.”

    • fortymegafonzies says:

      What a jerkoff (Reyes), he just had to throw in that totally irrelevant “think of the children” comment. But kudos to him for the flip-flop anyway.

  5. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Warning: these are Republicans, meaning there’s no way they should be given any credit for this. If they switched to the correct side of this issue, it only means they are hypocrites and/or that they were bought off somehow, or some similar personal motivation. Stick to the party line.

  6. Buckus says:

    In other words: Push this down the road a few months, rename it to something innocuous like “House Resolution 234093″ and pass it under the cover of darkness.

    • EatSleepJeep says:

      Actually, the next piece of awful internet legislation is called the “Protect Children from Internet Pornography Act;” however, all it does is track every site you visit, every link you click and every file you download.

      Guess who introduced it? Mr Smith, yet again.

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        I take it all back. Smith is an expert at the internet. I’ve never seen such skillful trolling.

      • hmburgers says:

        The largest and most vocal opponents for pornography are almost always some of the biggest closet users… and from the looks of Mr. Smith that axiom may continue to prove true. Someone figuring out how to prove that would do well to slow his Godzilla-like attack on Tokyo/Internet

  7. phobos512 says:

    I’m reasonably certain that Congress includes the Senate and the House of Representatives, with the Senate (and the House) being a subset of the overall membership of Congress.

    Just sayin’…

  8. lupis42 says:

    What he said: “Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

    What he meant: “Instead, we should wait a few months, then re-introduce this under a different name. Something like ‘The Shoes-For-Orphans act’. That way, all of those clueless assholes, I mean voters, will have forgotten about it and re-elected us already.”
    I’m going to cite someone else here because he already said it better:
    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=14817

    “The politicians who got on board with this must fall into one of two categories:
    1) People who signed on with this bill without understanding what it was, how it works, and without considering the freedoms it would take away, in spite of the oath they took when entering office promising not to do this very thing.
    2) People who have been bought by the entertainment industry.
    Both of these should disqualify you from public office in my book. If you supported this bill, you should be defeated in the very next election. Full stop. I don‚Äôt care if you recant later. You don‚Äôt ‚Äúaccidentally‚Äù choose to violate the rights and freedoms of people around the world and then change your mind like you were ordering breakfast. There is something deeply wrong with you, and we would have better luck filling your post with any person chosen at random off the street. This is an important point, because this bill can easily be cut up and smeared over any number of spending bills, passing this a little bit at a time. Sure, we can get all worked up and organized to fight SOPA, but how much momentum do you think we‚Äôll have against ‚ÄúProvision 112.2, section 3, of the proposed revisions to the house bill of Protecting Doe-eyed Street Urchins From Pollution and Terrorists‚Äú? I‚Äôm begging you people, get rid of these losers(http://projects.propublica.org/sopa/). Even if they‚Äôre on you favorite politics team. No, especially if they‚Äôre on your team. I mean, the other side was already going to vote against them. “

  9. longfeltwant says:

    In my opinion, legislators shouldn’t get credit for crumbling under the pressure of public outrage. Why the heck didn’t they have the sense to realize how bad the law was BEFORE they — you know — SPONSORED THE BILL.

    If your sense of governance is as poor as that, then you don’t deserve to legislate. Go away and take your dirty money with you.

    By the way, I’d like to suggest that when you consider buying a CD or DVD or MP3 or whatever, that you stop yourself. Instead of doing the UNETHICAL thing by paying for the content, do the ETHICAL thing by downloading it for free without paying for it. It is NOT ETHICAL to support these businesses; likewise, it is not ethical to restrict your consumption of the human culture to which you are entitled. We can either have fair and well-balanced laws for protection of IP, or we can have civil disobedience.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      What?

    • little stripes says:

      I agree, though I think we, the people, should be given credit for making them remember that our opinions and therefore our votes matter.

    • Tim says:

      So if it’s ethical to completely disregard copyright law by stealing artistic works, what IS an ethical way to protect intellectual property?

      • longfeltwant says:

        By paying the people who deserve the money, whoever those people are, in your opinion — of course. For most people, the answer is “the artists”.

    • Lackwit says:

      How about you don’t buy OR pirate movies or music, if you’re that concerned about ethics. Or would the lack of these luxuries be too intolerable of a burden for you?

      • longfeltwant says:

        Luxuries? That’s human culture, man. Why would you deny to a human, his own culture? I think that would be morally wrong.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      You are not entitled to a movie or song for free dipshit.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Of course we are. That’s what I meant by human culture. You don’t pay Shakespeare’s descendants for Othello, do you? Until IP laws are ethical, which they haven’t been for quite a while now, it is unethical to abide by them.

        I say this as a person who makes IP for a living, by the way, if that matters to you, which it shouldn’t.

  10. PHRoG says:

    Translation: We’re getting too much heat on this, let’s back off and slide it in with some other bill this year.

  11. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    “I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor…

    I see what you did there, Marco…

  12. shepd says:

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter, those senators are still pro SOPA, they just want a new name. This is how you know someone is pro SOPA/DMCA/four-letter-acronym:

    “Stealing content is theft, plain and simple”

    If the person you are talking to believes that copying is theft, until you break them of that untruth, you are talking to a brick wall.

    • Tim says:

      Oh? So you don’t believe intellectual property should be protected at all?

      • little stripes says:

        He never said that.

      • shepd says:

        I believe that Intellectual Property is a buzzword invented by the pro-copyright lobby to give them something that doesn’t exist so they can claim it was stolen.

        I believe that copyright, as it stands now, itself is theft from the people, if we’re going to use the word that way. I might consider it differently if copyright were to expire within the average lifespan of an adult.

        I believe that the word “theft” should apply to you losing something genuinely provably lost. Like your Metallica CD stolen from your car. Not lost opportunity. To have your “intellectual property” “stolen”, I believe you’d have to have lost all copies of it and have no way to get it back. Like a prototype cartridge of a game being stolen in a break-and-enter sort of way, never to be seen again.

        I believe that “copryright infringement” is in fact just that, copyright infringement. And that anybody who deals with law, such as a senator, should know better than to use the wrong words to describe such an issue–words that aren’t even present in copyright legislation.

        So, in short, no, I don’t believe an imaginary item deserves any protection whatsoever. I do believe that a reasonable copyright term (which is not the present case) should be available to authors so they can be afforded a reasonable time during which they may profit from their work. Work is not “intellectual property”. Work is physical and mental effort. Work deserves reward. “Intellectual property” is an attempt to rip away the effort an artist puts in and twist it into something a corporation can sell without putting any work into at all.

      • comatose says:

        Your infringing copyright, not STEALING anything. If you steal something, the person is -1 less of that..that is NOT the case.

      • Rachacha says:

        If I own a DVD that I purchased from Best Buy, should I not have the right to make a copy of that DVD for archival purposes (aka to protect that copy of “The Little Mermaid” from scratches as my 2 year old takes it out of the DVD player) and/or rip a copy of that DVD to watch from the hard drive of my computer or to watch on my iPod? As the commercial DVD likely contains copy protection it is likely illegal to break that protection to make a copy for archival purposes. Not I say Likely as the DMCA makes it illegal to break opy protection. While logic would dictate that I can make a copy of it for personal use, it has never been tried in a court of law, so it is impossible to say if the black & white law or logic would win.

      • LanMan04 says:

        Man, you’re awesome at building strawmen and putting words in other people’s mouths.

        COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS NOT STEALING OR THEFT.

        Seriously. It’s not. No one is being deprived of anything.

  13. Shadowfire says:

    My Senator hasn’t dropped support. Probably because he sponsored the bill in the first place.

    Dedicating myself to getting his ass voted out in 2016. If I wasn’t convinced I would just be beat down I’d run against him. Then again, it is Vermont. It’s not like I need a huge number of votes to win here. :P

  14. skakh says:

    Did God speak to Marco?

  15. Velvet Jones says:

    The biggest problem I have with these types of legislation is that it benefits a tiny group of people at the expense of everyone in the nation. No matter how big of a problem they claim it is, IP theft does NOT impact 99% of the public. This bill was written by MPAA lawyers and delivered to congress on a silver platter. With so many negative things impacted the common person today the last thing congress should be doing is even considering this garbage. The fact that they’re even wasting time with this BS is a disgrace. Of course solving real problems is hard work, not something these silver spoon scum bags are use too.

  16. allthatsevil says:

    That’s funny. I tried to fill out Cornyn’s online contact form last night, to inform him of my opposition to the bills. Every time I hit submit, it came back with an error message telling me that my last name was required on the form. I typed in my last name every time, and every time it returned the form to me with that field blank.

    Guess I can’t take any credit for him flipping. :-[ But I’m glad he did.

  17. weathergirl says:

    I wish my senator would do this. Then again, he’s a co-sponsor of PIPA, so that’s unlikely.

    And as what I’m sure was a complete, 100% positive coincidence, his website and D.C. office line were both down all morning…

  18. FrugalFreak says:
  19. HogwartsProfessor says:

    YEAAAAAAAHHH!!!! The article says one of the senators who backed off is mine! I’m so glad I added my email to the deluge this morning. Heh heh heh!

  20. Skyhawk says:

    “Stealing content is theft, plain and simple,”

    No, it isn’t. It’s copyright infringement.

    Theft is depriving someone of their property without their willful consent.

    The entertainment industry is the only industry in the US for which the government enacts and enforces CRIMINAL law for copyright infringement. EVERY other US industry must enforce it’s copyrights in civil court.

    How much money did the entertainment industry use to bribe public officials to enact and enforce criminal penalties for civil infractions for ONE industry?