Opinionated @ CFE

Orrin Hatch’s Doubletalk on Protect IP

Jan
25

It was fun watching SOPA and PIPA go down in flames in spectacular fashion from the angered raging of the entire friggin’ Internet. It was equally amusing watching Senator Orrin Hatch, a co-sponsor of PIPA, do contortions to try and distance himself from the bill faster than a cat from a tub of water. In the process, an amazing amount of doubletalk came from the Senators numerous paid staffers. You shouldn’t be too surprised when Sen. Hatch comes back with the same or a similar bill in the not too distant future.

One of the bigger whoppers is that Sen. Hatch was a co-sponsor of the bill in order to “get a seat at the table”, not to necessarily endorse its content. That, however, doesn’t quite jive with his enthusiastic support of the bill when it was initially introduced in May of 2011. Technology companies and prominent technologists immediately expressed concern with the bill and continue to do so, but Sen. Hatch’s “seat at the table” resulted in zero proposed amendments to the bill before he abruptly reversed course. This raises a few concerns.

One, why would you need to sponsor a bill you don’t particularly like in order to amend or improve it? Sponsorship is endorsement, and you, for all intents and purposes, own that bill. Two, you don’t need to sponsor a bill in order to propose changes to it. Almost anyone can propose amendments. And three, what good is that “seat at the table” if it goes unused? Failing to amend a bill that tech companies agree with break some very fundamental protocols of the Internet (including the federally-mandated DNSSEC) is irresponsible at best.

We also have to consider Orrin Hatch’s actions on intellectual property and copyright. This is the Senator who asked, in earnest, if there was a way to blow up a suspected copyright infringer’s PC. The absolute absurdity of such a proposal (not to mention its complete lack of due process) is reason enough to believe that the latest bill to be hawked is just more of the same. This dovetails with the half million dollars Hatch has accepted from the entertainment industry and numerous times he has sought to push similar legislation, including the deeply-flawed ACTA treaty, something that makes PIPA look reasonable. Hatch has also worked to greatly extend the term of copyrights far beyond what most experts consider to be economically beneficial, instead creating a system of government-granted monopoly.

Make no mistake: Hatch’s retreat on PIPA is temporary, and he will waste no time trying to pass similar or worse legislation in this space if given the chance. Let’s not let him have it.

BONUS: Watch Sen. Hatch doubletalk all over himself when it’s just him and a live audience. I’m sure this gave his handlers a headache.

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