When the Senate returns Jan. 24, it will take up online piracy, one of the most contentious issues on the Hill that has pitted big technology against big media. Over the weekend, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a motion to proceed on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in an effort to override the hold on the bill placed by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Wyden immediately responded by introducing the Online Protection & Enforcement Digital Trade Act or OPEN Act with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., an alternative bill that is more acceptable to technology companies such as Google and Facebook that oppose PIPA and its House version, Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. (Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., are sponsors of OPEN in the House.)
"The OPEN Act meets the same publicly stated goals as SOPA or Protect IP without causing massive damage to the Internet," Wyden said in a statement. "The OPEN Act expands the ability of the International Trade Commission to investigate IP infringement, providing a forum for due process without messing with the inner workings of the Internet. The same goals are met without the collateral damage SOPA and Protect IP will leave in their wake."
Wyden has vowed to filibuster the floor action by reading every one of the more than a million names that are on petitions opposing SOPA and PIPA.
To bring PIPA to a Senate vote, proponents led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., sponsor of PIPA, need 60 votes. The Act already has 40 co-sponsors.
Meanwhile, proponents of SOPA on the House side continue to move along progress of that bill. After postponing what was a marathon markup last week, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Tex., will continue the process of getting SOPA through the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.