Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, is calling on the public to help fight two Internet censorship bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Wyden is also threatening to filibuster the legislation if it comes up for a vote.
Wyden claims both bills will do damage to the economy and restrict free speech.
The Protect IP Act is a piece of anti-piracy legislation that, if passed, will allow theU.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders that will require Internet service providers to shut down websites accused of copyright infringement.
PIPA is the Senate version of the anti-piracy bill, and was introduced in May 2011, while SOPA is the "corrected" House version, and was introduced at the end of October. Among other things "corrected" in SOPA, there's a new provision that makes posting YouTube videos with copyrighted music--even if it's playing in the background--a felony.
[RELATED: The US Stop Online Piracy Act: A Primer]
The Stop Online Piracy Act, if passed, would allow the U.S. Department of Justice (and other copyright holders) to seek court orders that will require online ad networks, payment processors (such as Visa and PayPal), and other organizations to block payments to websites and services accused of copyright infringement.
Wyden's team, working with activist group Demand Progress, has set up a website--StopCensorship.org--where people can fill out a form to urge lawmakers to oppose the censorship legislation. People who do not support SOPA and PIPA can also ask Wyden to read their names during the filibuster.
"Bills like PIPA and SOPA will do lasting damage to one of the fastest growing, job-creating sectors of our economy: the Internet," Wyden says in a YouTube video. "The at-all-costs approach that these bills take to protect the intellectual property sacrifices cyber-security while restricting free speech and innovation."
Needless to say, SOPA has been under constant attack since it was introduced. Resistance has come from all corners of the Internet and Silicon Valley, including from California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren (whose congressional district includes Santa Clara County and San Jose), the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and, now, Wyden. Even the Business Software Alliance (BSA), who was initially on board with SOPA, has decided that the act goes too far and no longer supports it.
This is not the first time Wyden has taken a stand against copyright protection bills--he previously blocked the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) and he also blocked Protect IP in May.
Supporters of Wyden are invited to have their name read during the filibuster by visiting StopCensorship.org and fill out the form.