Leahy Plans Amendment to Controversial Piracy Bill

Wyden responds he will still filibuster proposal

It looks like the aggressive campaign spearheaded by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., to change the course of debate in Congress over how to stop foreign websites from stealing U.S. content or selling counterfeit goods is starting to pay off.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-author of the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, said on Vermont Public Radio that he was working to craft a managers' amendment to the bill addressing some of the concerns raised by the proposal's opponents, specifically the provision that would call for the blocking of domain names.

PIPA is scheduled to come to the floor as soon as the Senate returns on Jan. 23. Leahy plans to have his amendment ready by the vote on Jan. 24. Wyden, who along with Issa is proposing an alternative bill called OPEN, is vowing to filibuster the bill.

"I and the bill’s co-sponsors have continued to hear concerns about the domain name provision from engineers, human rights groups and others . . . I remain confident that the ISPs—including the cable industry, which is the largest association of ISPs—would not support the legislation if its enactment created the problems that opponents of this provision suggest," Leahy said in a statement.

A spokesman for Wyden responded that Leahy's shift in position was good news but also that it doesn't go far enough.

“It is welcome news that proponents of PIPA are finally accepting that it contains major flaws," said Tom Caiazza, Wyden's press secretary. "Unfortunately, simply removing the DNS provisions still leaves us with a bill that establishes a censorship regime that threatens speech, innovation and the future of the American economy. Senator Wyden remains firm in his intent to block consideration of the PIPA bill until these issues are addressed and is committed to doing all he can to ensure that whatever legislative course is taken, that it is fully transparent, fully understood and fully considered by all those who value the Internet.”