Delegation responds to Internet piracy bills

WASHINGTON – As sites across the Internet go dark today in protest of online anti-piracy bills in the U.S. House and Senate, members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation are clarifying their positions on what’s becoming a controversial issue.

The state’s eight House members are mostly coming out against the Stop Online Piracy Act (known as SOPA) with at least six members already telling MPR News that they’re opposed to the measure. DFL Rep. Keith Ellison has gone so far as to join the protesters by blacking out his campaign website in solidarity.

Separately, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann expressed her opposition to the bill in a speech during her now-ended presidential campaign. Check the bottom of this post for comments from each member.

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen has not yet responded to requests for comment on the bill.

Minnesota’s two U.S. senators both favor the Senate version of the bill, known as the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and were listed as original co-sponsors of the legislation when it was introduced last May. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was singled out by teen sensation Justin Bieber, who said she should be “locked up” for introducing another online piracy bill that would make it a felony to illegally stream copyrighted material.*SEE CORRECTION BELOW

Sen. Al Franken, a former actor and comedian, also supports for the bill, which is heavily favored by the entertainment industry. But Franken has also been an outspoken advocate for net neutrality and other key issues for the tech community. That community has united against the legislation, putting the state’s junior senator in a tough bind.

POSITION STATEMENTS:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) – Opposed – “I have serious concerns about government getting involved in regulation of the Internet, and about ambiguities in this legislation, which could lead to an explosion of destructive, innovation-stalling lawsuits,” Bachmann said during an Oct. 20 speech while campaigning for president. UPDATE “Congresswoman Bachmann has said that she has ‘serious concerns about government getting involved in regulation of the Internet.’ It is because of those concerns that she opposes SOPA,” said Bachmann spokeswoman Becky Rogness.

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) – Opposed – “While we need to confront copyright infringement and online piracy, SOPA and PIPA legislation preempts due process of law. These are the wrong bills to accomplish this task, leaving too much room for interpretation, ” said Cravaack.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D) – Opposed – As mentioned above, Ellison has blacked out his campaign website in solidarity and says the bill would, “harm internet innovation and jobs.”

Sen. Al Franken (D) – Supports – A spokesman for Franken said he would issue a statement on PIPA. UPDATE “Sen. Franken has heard the concerns that many Minnesotans have voiced over the past few days about the PROTECT IP Act, and he believes we need to reach a compromise that will both keep the Internet free and open and protect American Jobs,” said Franken communications director Ed Shelleby.

Rep. John Kline (R) – Opposed – “I am not a co-sponsor of this bill, and do not support the legislation because it fails to maintain the freedom of expression provided by the Constitution and infringes on our liberties,” said Kline.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) – Supports – UPDATE “The Senator believes we need to address concerns being raised today and work out a compromise that balances free exchange on the Internet with stopping foreign piracy that hurts our economy,” said Klobuchar communications director Linden Zakula.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D) – Opposed – “I oppose SOPA because it threatens personal privacy, imposes unnecessary costs on Internet providers, and undermines open access to information on the web,” said McCollum.

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) – Opposed – “While I believe copyright infringement and piracy should be prosecuted to the full extent that the law affords, I have deep concerns about the effects of SOPA and therefore cannot support it in its current form,” said Paulsen.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D) – The long-serving congressman is leaning against the measure, Peterson’s chief of staff, Cherie Slayton, told MPR News.

Rep. Tim Walz (D) – Opposed – “The innovation and the entrepreneurship that we’ve seen come out of the internet, it’s a model that is working and has worked and I’m very fearful that an overreach on this squashes that innovation,” Walz said Wednesday.

CORRECTION An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Justin Bieber believed Sen. Klobuchar should go to jail for her sponsorship of PIPA. That is incorrect. Bieber was referring to Klobuchar’s sponsorship of a separate bill that would make illegal streaming a felony.

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