Dear Mrs. Banks:
Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 968, the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP),” and H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).” It is good to hear from you.
S. 968 was introduced on May 12, 2011, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. On May 26, it was reported out of committee and placed on the general legislative calendar. If enacted, S. 968 would amend federal copyright law to authorize the Attorney General to file civil action against violators of copyright infringement law.
H.R. 3261 was introduced on October 26, 2011, and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. On December 16, it was considered before the full committee; however, the bill was not voted out for consideration by the full House. If enacted, H.R. 3261 would authorize the Attorney General to seek a court order against a U.S.-directed foreign Internet site committing or facilitating online piracy.
On January 23, 2012, a procedural vote on S. 968 was scheduled in the Senate; however, Majority Leader Reid announced that this vote will be postponed in order to allow for modifications to the bill to be made. Furthermore, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith announced that further consideration of H.R. 3261 would be postponed indefinitely.
It was always clear that SOPA and PROTECT IP needed to be perfected, and that legitimate concerns needed to be addressed before these bills could move forward. Given this and my constituents concerns, it was always my intention to oppose moving forward until concerns had been addressed. With the majority leader’s decision to postpone the cloture vote on the PROTECT IP Act originally scheduled for January 24, I withdrew my co-sponsorship to await the resolution of the outstanding issues.
I believe that online theft is a serious issue, and that Congress needs to make certain that our laws adequately protect the interests of rights holders. When $58 billion in economic output is lost to the U.S. economy annually due to copyright theft of movies, music, packaged software and video games, and about one-quarter of all internet traffic is copyright infringing, there is a real problem that needs to be addressed. I have complete faith that we will be able to work out a compromise in the future that addresses this, while still promoting free and open access to the internet. Should a bill addressing this topic come before the full Senate for consideration, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
If you would like to receive timely email alerts regarding the latest congressional actions and my weekly e-newsletter, please sign up via my web site at: www.chambliss.senate.gov . Please let me know whenever I may be of assistance.