Call Sen. Franken about the Protect IP Act

I am opposed to the Protect IP Act. I see it as the next step in providing corporations with complete control of the internet. Considering how hard Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) fought for net neutrality, I was shocked to learn that he was co-sponsoring the bill. So I made some calls and spoke with some staffers about Al's position.

As background, during those dark days after the '04 election Al's show saved me. I mean that sincerely. In 2007, I was the first Minnesota blogger to endorse Al. I ran the Norm Coleman Weasel Meter to push the truth about his opponent into the media. I did a little thing called Fridays With Frannie to help push the campaign message during the race and afterwards because it was so much fun. So as I am about to criticize him, its as someone who has long held affection for Al and Frannie.

Please please please call Senator Franken and tell him you are opposed to the Protect IP Act.

Email Sen. Franken

DC 202-224-5641
Duluth 218-722-2390
St. Cloud 320-251-2721
St. Paul 651-221-1016
St. Peter 507-931-5813

Please leave a comment, leave me a note on Facebook or tweet me after you contact Sen. Franken.

Al is co-sponsoring the Protect IP Act because he sees this as a jobs issue. He believes that protecting intellectual property will protect the writers, actors and all the people working in Hollywood on films. He feels that too much material is getting pirated and is costing America (in general) too much.

Here's a statement from Al:

"For me, this is an important jobs issue," said Sen. Franken. "The online sale of copyrighted content and counterfeit goods hurts American workers and businesses, and it ultimately means lost jobs. I had some concerns when this bill was introduced last year. I thought it was too broad and too sweeping. These concerns were mostly addressed in the latest version of the Senate bill, where the definitions of which websites can be targeted are more narrowly tailored. This bill only goes after websites whose primary purpose is distributing copyrighted material. The Senate bill doesn't address all my concerns, and I don't think it's perfect. However, it's a big improvement and is a good start toward helping to protect American jobs from piracy."

I raised the point with his staff that this will mainly benefit multi-national corporations. It seems that our Senator recognizes this, but thinks protecting all of these American jobs is worth it.

Who really benefits?

The likelihood that this bill will usher in a new era of internet censorship seems to be worth the price from what I gathered from the staffers I spoke with. I find this shocking. The NFL, NBA (if they werent in the process of shooting themselves in the foot with a lockout) and Major League Baseball are making massive profits. The multi-national corporations that own Hollywood are raking in astounding profits. Corporate profits are skyrocketing while actual Americans suffer. Isn't this the point of the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

I believe that this bill will only further corporate control of the internet. Corporations will decide what entertainment we get. How much will that suck?

I asked why not just go after the IP pirates? Apparently, current measures are not strong enough. But considering that Sandia National Labs characterizes this bill as a whack-a-mole approach, the Franken staffers did not placate me that the Protect IP Act would actually have any effect. They claim that many pirating sites never come back after the first "whack."

So because taking any kind of further actions against won't go far enough, we run a fairly certain risk of blanket censorship and a solution that won't actually stop the pirating according to many experts.

Censorship

The language of the bill is so vague that any corporation or powerful (or rich) person could stifle the free speech of any website they wanted. When I brought this up, the staffers assured me that any action must go before a judge. They assured me that I could only get shut down if my primary purpose was stealing others intellectual property.

Not according to pretty much all the material I've read about this bill.

Franken's argument doesn't sound convincing to me. I'm always citing what others say. What's to stop a newspaper from getting me shut down because I cite their intellectual property and the intellectual property of others? What's to stop Michele Bachmann from getting me shut down because I criticize her?

You think I'm paranoid. Read the bill.

Please leave a comment, leave me a note on Facebook or tweet me after you contact Sen. Franken.

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Eric Pusey's picture
Eric Pusey

Minnesota Progressive Project seeks to be the go-to source for progressive politics in Minnesota.