Here’s a response from Senator Mark Pryor following an Email I sent asking him not to turn the US into China or Iran:
Thank you for contacting me regarding online piracy legislation. I appreciate hearing from you.
I understand your concerns about this issue. Supporting Arkansas’s businesses and the American economy is one of my highest priorities. This means encouraging all countries to play by the rules of a fair market. Counterfeiting and pirating are harmful to U.S. companies and must be stopped. Consequences of such intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements include deprivation of income for legitimate businesses and their workers, discouragement of innovation and creativity, endangering consumer health and safety, providing a source of revenue for organized crime, and a loss of tax revenue.
To date, several bills have been introduced into the 112th Congress designed to address this growing problem. However, I understand there are serious concerns regarding some of these proposals. Please know, as I closely review each proposal that comes before the Senate for debate, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I value your input. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office regarding this or any other matter of concern to you.
And why would I not hesitate? He completely misses the point. If he really wants to discourage innovation then he should support PIPA. I get it, though, and PIPA really isn’t as bad as SOPA - it’s just wrongheaded.
Here’s Rep. Steve Womack’s canned response concerning SOPA:
The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act, S.968, was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on May 12, 2011, to allow the U.S. attorney general to seek court orders requiring U.S.-based search engines and internet service providers to stop providing links to infringing sites. In addition, it requires payment processors and online advertising networks to refrain from conducting business with such sites. The PROTECT IP Act was reported by voice vote from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is currently pending before the full Senate for passage.
While a companion bill to the PROTECT IP Act has not been introduced in the House, Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) introduced H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which has the same general goal of protecting American ingenuity. It goes further than the PROTECT IP Act to work with other governments, including those of other countries, to combat piracy, in addition to increasing criminal penalties. Furthermore, it aims at protecting American consumers at risk for identity theft or fraudulent charges every day. SOPA is a more aggressive bill in regard to fighting the theft of intellectual property, and it is currently under consideration by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet.
While I believe individuals and entities who possess copyrights and patents deserve to fully benefit from the legal protection afforded them, any legislation of this magnitude must be carefully considered. Contrary to what many believe, this bill will not censor free speech but will work to protect those rights afforded to us by the Constitution, including free speech and property rights. I support working toward a solution to ensure our nation’s legal system protects the hard work of songwriters, performers, authors, artists, engineers, and countless others who invest their time and energy to better our country while, at the same time, ensuring that the internet allows for freedom of speech and ideas. I assure you I will keep your thoughts in mind as I consider my position on this legislation.
The emphasis is mine because it is so emphatically wrong. If you’re going to make a statement like that, then please, please prove it. I suspect the only rights Rep. Womack (or any other Washington politician) cares about are the rights of corporations.
These are very dispiriting responses to a very real problem.