Who could ever imagine our former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and ultra liberal comedian Bill Maher being on the same page on anything?
Yet they are. Both guys have now spoken out in FAVOR of legislation to combat internet piracy of intellectual property, which has inflicted permanent damage on the music industry and serious blows to creators of TV, films and video games.
We're talking 'bout that controversial issue which the U.S. Congress suddenly ran away from en masse after last Wednesday's well orchestrated shutdown of popular internet sites (like Google and Wikipedia) and a massive slam job on the U.S. Congress' email.
Politically-focused Maher - usually a civil libertarian - has been craving anti-piracy legislation since the widespread internet bootlegging of his film "Religulous." As he groused to his "Real Time" HBO audience last Friday, when one rogue distributor was shut down, another would immediately pop up - and the theft cost him dearly in box office and DVD sales.
Santorum, taking an opposing view from Hollywood hater Newt Gingrich, civil libertarian Ron Paul and free enterprise advocate Mitt Romney, shared in their joint debate last week that the now postponed PROTECT IP act "goes too far." Then in the next breath, Santorum added "But I will not agree with everybody up here that there isn't something that can and should be done" to protect intellectual property rights. "The idea that, you know, anything goes on the Internet, where did that come from? Where in America does it say that anything goes?"
With legislative support caving for the U.S. Senate's PROTECT IP Act and the companion House of Representives bill SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). new attention now will be given to the more narrowly defined OPEN Act, HR-3782 which has the support of Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa - a Southern California-based maker of radar detectors - and Democrats like Rep Jared Polis from Colorado - founder of the online florist company ProFlowers and greeting card site bluemountainarts.com.
The OPEN legislation would authorize the U.S. International Trade Commisssion, rather than the Department of Justice, to conduct investigations into foreign infringing websites and "expeditiously get remedy," said Senator Ron Wyden (D, Oregon) who's introduced a companion bill S-2029.
Will that please Fight for the Future, a major organizer of Wednesday's web blackouts? Co-founder Holmes Wilson vowed "any law that lets the copyright lobby block our websites, censor our search results or cut off our PayPal accounts - without even going through a judge - will be soundly defeated."
Net Coalition - which represents Google, Yahoo and eBay - has taken a more conciliatory tone. "We remain committed to working with Congress to address the problem of piracy without compromising innovation and free expression."