updated 09:05 pm EST, Mon December 19, 2011
Senator Harry Reid pushes for quick vote
The US Senate is reportedly set to vote on the Protect IP Act on January 24, making it one of the first pieces of legislation to be put to a vote when the senators return from their holiday vacation. The controversial anti-piracy bill was said to be fast-tracked by Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.
Proponents argue the legislation is necessary to protect content owners from losing profits due to online piracy. The bill would provide ways for the government to blacklist sites that are believed to contribute to illegal file sharing.
"The costs of online infringement are American jobs, harm to America's economy, and very real threats to consumers' safety," said Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who authored the legislation, as quoted by CNET. "The answer cannot simply be to do nothing."
Critics suggest the Protect IP Act will do harm to legitimate organizations and businesses, while also violating First Amendment provisions regarding free speech.
"I will be working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle over the next month to explain the basis for this widespread concern, and I intend to follow through on a commitment that I made more than a year ago, to filibuster this bill when the Senate returns in January," said vocal opponent Senator Ron Wyden.
It remains unclear if the bill will be approved in the Senate, though it does have 41 sponsors and bipartisan support. An equivalent piece of legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was recently delayed in the House as Representatives decided to take a closer look at industry concerns.