Sen. Patrick Leahy is on a mission to destroy the Internet.
He is the man that introduced the PROTECT-IP act into the Senate and spawned what became the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives. Both acts have a decent chance of passing.
Those acts give content-producing companies the right to order a take down for a website that they believe is infringing on a copyright. If you even host links to content that infringes on a copyright, you have to take it down.
If not, the copyright owner can request that the infringing site has its advertising and transaction revenue cut off. Or it can request that a domain name — like businessinsider.com — be blacklisted and rendered inaccessible.
Representatives intend to stamp out “rogue” sites that host pirated content with the bill. But it’s worth noting that some companies — like Warner Bros. — abuse those take-down privileges and issue false take-down notices with alarming regularity. Hotfile, an online file-sharing site, is currently suing Warner Bros. for abusing the site’s voluntary take-down tool and issuing too many false notices.
Leahy is known for being involved in the movie industry — which, along with the music industry, deals with piracy worst than most. The MPAA has called out Leahy and praised him for his stance on piracy. He even played a bit part in the Batman film “The Dark Knight” published by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Also worth noting: about 25 congress representatives are also already infringing on the SOPA act. They are posting video clips hosted on YouTube of their actions on their respective campaign sites, according to a list assembled by Reddit users.
A huge assortment of Internet companies like Twitter, Google, Zynga and Facebook have all issued complaints to U.S. representatives to try and stop the bill. The congressional hearings started today, with the panel consisting of “former prosecutors, defence lawyers and there are even two former judges” — not one engineer — Rep. Ted Poe said at the hearings, according to Hacker News.
The odds are stacked in favour of the bills right now. We’ll see soon enough whether Leahy will get his way.