Message Party founder Amanda Peyton was in for a rude awakening this morning when she tried to do the right thing. Rather than taking the Internet’s word for it that the proposed Protect IP Act (PIPA) is inherently evil—”I know how myopic the tech world can be sometimes,” she notes—Ms. Peyton decided to go to the source: Senator Chuck Schumer, co-sponsor of the bill.
After protest from tech industry leaders and human rights groups, PIPA, in essence the Senate’s version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), is already being reconsidered by its author, Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT-D). Sen. Leahy is calling for more research. But as it stands, the legislation would subject a website that contains copyright infringing content to being de-indexed from search engines, blocked from ISPs, and stopped from doing accessing business services like PayPal.
Enough backstory. On her blog, Ms. Peyton, narrated what happened when she called up good ole Chuck.
The first question I asked was “why does the Senator support this legislation?”
The guy on the other end of the phone said: well, he’s a co-sponsor so he’s not changing his position.
He must have known why I was calling.
Asked the same question again. This time the reply I got this time was different: Senator Schumer is in favor of censoring the internet.
No one has been brazen enough to drop the C-word without hesitation. But this dude apparently had no problem with it. I said again: “So you’re saying Senator Schumer is in favor of censoring the internet?”
He then backpedaled a bit, and mentioned that Schumer is in favor of censoring illegal activities on the internet. But still, the C-word.
I could hear the phone-answerer smacking his lips in the background, grinning and thinking: ALL YOUR CAT PHOTOS ARE BELONG TO US. on a centrally controlled website owned by Viacom.
If that rubs you the wrong way, not to fear: there’s an (emergency) Meetup for that.
But there’s another upside to this disappointing tale. When Ms. Peyton called, an actual human being answered the phone! “There’s no annoying menus, no transfers, no answering machines. Washington, please don’t ever change this.” Everything else about Washington, however… big room for improvement.
CLARIFICATION: Ms. Peyton received a call from Sen. Schumer’s office clarifying the senator’s position:
1. It’s not just Hollywood – another big issue that they are trying to combat here is piracy related to physical products that are sold by overseas websites: counterfeit chips, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, etc.
2. DMCA is incredibly effective, but only for the companies that actually comply with it.
3. There have been some changes made to the bill already that take into account the concerns of the tech community. For example, yesterday one of the Senate sponsors said “he will recommend that the the Senate gives DNS blacklisting “more study” before moving ahead”.
4. The tech community is very important to New York State, and so are all the other industries here who support the bill (entertainment, manufacturing), and while the outcry from the opposition has been heard, it is also pretty recent. Back when they were researching the bill, they felt there was a balance of interest between those who were for and against it.