Did Senator Wyden Save The Internet?

There is – well make that was – a new internet censorship bill being considered in Washington DC – Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA) – that would have allowed the Justice Department to use court orders to shut down websites thought to infringe on copyright even before a violation is proved in court.

Fortunately, Democrat Senator from Oregon Ron Wyden has derailed the attempt for this year.

COICA was introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont on September 20, 2010. It rapidly passed through committee 19-0 and was scheduled to go before the Senate when Wyden stepped in.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation stated “Although it is ostensibly focused on copyright infringement, an enormous amount of noninfringing content, including political and other speech, could disappear off the Web if it passes.

The main mechanism of the bill is to interfere with the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which translates names like “www.eff.org” or “www.nytimes.com” into the IP addresses that computers use to communicate. The bill creates a blacklist of censored domains; the Attorney General can ask a court to place any website on the blacklist if infringement is “central” to the purpose of the site.”

“Each year, online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American businesses billions of dollars and result in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs,” said Leahy, the Tech, the MIT newspaper reported. “The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act will protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments. Protecting intellectual property is not uniquely a Democratic or Republican priority — it is a bipartisan priority.”

“Despite the stiff opposition of public interest groups, such as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), COICA passed with a 19-0 vote and is now awaiting the vote of the full Senate. Part of the bill’s success was due to its support by entertainment industries, which were losing revenue due to pirated material that was leaked onto the Internet and hoping S.3804 would help alleviate the problem,” the Tech noted.

“It’s too early to say for sure, but Oregon Senator Ron Wyden could very well go down in the history books as the man who saved the Internet,” the Raw Story stated.

Tim Berners-Lee, the web’s creator, called these proposed laws a blight on society.

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