‘Digital Bill of Rights’ gets positive reception from entertainment industry

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A newly introduced “Digital Bill of Rights” seeks to safeguard the rights of digital citizens, a move greeted positively by representatives from the entertainment industry.

The bill, still in draft form, was proposed by California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden during the Personal Democracy Forum Monday. The current draft, available for public comment on Issa’s KeepTheWebOpen.com website, outlines the various rights of digital citizens. As of June 13, there were 100 community suggestions and 34 community comments on various aspects of the bill.

Rights outlined included “Freedom – digital citizens have a right to a free, uncensored Internet,” “Openness – digital citizens have a right to an open, unobstructed Internet” and “Property – digital citizens have a right to benefit from what they create, and be secure in their intellectual property.”

Issa emphasized on his KeepTheWebOpen.com website that the Digital Bill of Rights was about protecting digital citizens from lawmakers who understand little about the Internet, in the same way that the Bill of Rights protects citizens from government tyranny.

“But where can a digital citizen turn for protection against the powerful?” asked Issa. “This question [was] at the heart of the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA and keep the web open.”

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — and its Senate companion, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) — initially received bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. The legislation aimed to stop the spread of commercial online piracy of intellectual property, like patents and software by vesting new authority in the Department of Justice to pursue the owners foreign “rogue sites” that facilitated copyright infringement.

Various trade organizations representing various facets of American technology, manufacturing, labor unions and entertainment companies lobbied in favor of the bill. The entertainment industry, however, took the brunt of opponents’ scorn. Opponents believed that the bills would lead to censorship of social networks and harm unknowing consumers.

An Internet-wide protest was organized prior to the bills coming to a vote, during which website owners blacked out their sites and put up notifications alerting Internet users to contact their members of Congress to voice their opposition of the bills. Lawmakers renounced their support of the bills en masse.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Hollywood’s industry lobby group in Washington, told The Daily Caller that it was in agreement of the principles of a free and open Internet outlined in the proposed Digital Bill of Rights. The MPAA is headed by former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.

“We agree that a secure and free internet is critical not only to our nation’s economic success but also to our national identity – and we agree that it’s critically important to balance the free flow of information on the internet with the right of creators to benefit from what they create,” MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield told TheDC.

“Our fundamental goal for any anti-piracy solution moving forward is to protect creative property while ensuring an internet that works for everyone,” said Bedingfield.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the recording industry’s lobby group in Washington, also had positive words for the bill.

“We haven’t seen content yet but we look forward to learning more about it,” RIAA spokesperson Cara Duckworth told TheDC.

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