July 14, 2011
Tech Killing / Entrepreneurship killing Protect IP Bill moving through Senate

It must be pass stupid legislation month in congress or something.  In addition to the idiotic S. 978 Bill, the U.S. Senate is also considering passing the Protect IP Act.  There are a lot of bad things about it that you can read about independently below.

Here’s what you need to know.

People Against the IP Bill

  • Over 50 VCs including Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock
  • Google
  • Senior Citizens that buy generic drugs online for low prices (the bill would force generic drug sellers to be shut down)

People For the IP Bill

  • The RIAA
  • Microsoft
  • Unions

Take a look at who supports this legislation and who is against it and you’ll understand quickly whether or not this bill is awful or not.  The people supporting this terrible bill might as well call themselves Axis of Evil.

Opposition to the PROTECT IP Act — Hollywood-supported legislation intended to reduce content piracy and block counterfeit goods — is growing among the tech community, with a letter blasting the bill released Thursday by more than 50 venture capitalists from 40 firms that have funded many top Internet companies. They argue that the methods embodied in the proposed law would create untoward burdens and endanger the Internet.

A wide range of Hollywood trade associations and unions disagree, calling the legislation a critical step toward prevention of unauthorized downloading and streaming, problems that have proved near-intractable to date.

Also speaking out in recent weeks against the law is a completely different constituency: groups concerned that the broadly drafted act would endanger U.S. consumers’ access to pharmaceuticals from Canadian and other foreign pharmacies. They contend that such access, which is generally at lower-than-U.S. prices, is vital for uninsured consumers or those with limited coverage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed the bill, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) immediately put a hold on the legislation, on the grounds that the act was “overreaching” and would “damage … speech, innovation and the very integrity of the Internet.”

The bill’s prospects are uncertain: Wyden’s move prevents further action, at least for the time being, and the House has not introduced similar legislation.

In Thursday’s letter, the venture capitalists say the bill will “will stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.” They assert three problems:

— The bill burdens “countless Internet services” by requiring sites and search engines to remove links that point to sites offering pirated content.

— The bill endangers the security and integrity of the Internet by requiring DNS providers to block access to such sites. (The Domain Name System is the Internet mechanism that enables software such as web browsers to connect to websites.)

— The bill creates a private right of action that rights holders may use in ways that create significant burdens, even on companies acting in good faith. 

The venture capitalists work at such high-profile firms as Andreessen Horowitz, AOL Ventures, Draper Richards, Greylock Partners, Khosla Ventures, Softbank Capital, Venrock and others. According to an accompanying statement by an organization opposing the bill called Demand Progress, the firms collectively manage over $13 billion and the VCs were early investors in Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, among others.

Demand Progress also said that more than 350,000 people have signed its petitions against the PROTECT IP Act and a predecessor version of the bill.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, took particular exception last month to DNS domain blocking, noting that this is the same approach that China takes to censoring websites. Blocking “seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent,” he said.

Microsoft, in contrast, supports the legislation, though it suggests that some modifications are necessary to address various concerns.

Hollywood too has been broadly supportive of the legislation, with trade groups such as the MPAA, IFTA,and the National Association of Theatre Owners, and unions such as the American Federation of Musicians, AFTRA, DGA, IATSE, SAG and the Teamsters, all speaking out in favor. The RIAA favors the bill as well.