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Congressman Luján ditches SOPA

Rep. Luján
Rep. Luján

Last week, I tracked down comment from New Mexico’s representatives and senators on the Stop Online Piracy Act and its twin, the Protect IP Act.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who represents Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, was signed on as a cosponsor of SOPA. A few minutes ago, his spokesperson Andrew Stoddard sent word that Luján was no longer supporting the measure:

Online piracy is a serious issue that hurts our economy and costs us jobs in New Mexico. Counterfeit medication and contaminated drugs that are sold online endanger the health of Americans. It is clear that steps need to be taken to combat online piracy, but after further review, I have decided that I can no longer support SOPA in its current form. Over the past few weeks, I have heard from many of my constituents who agree that piracy is an issue that must be addressed yet have serious concerns with provisions in this bill. After listening to them and talking with folks in the district over the weekend, I took another hard look at the bill. While we need to take steps to address online piracy, we must also protect the unique qualities of the Internet.

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Three of five N.M. congressmen cosponsored SOPA and PIPA

In light of today’s blackouts, I hit up all of the state’s representatives and senators in Washington to get their take on the Stop Online Piracy Act and its twin, the Protect IP Act.

Meanwhile, around the country cosponsors are announcing they can no longer support the legislation. But three of New Mexico’s delegation have their names signed to the bills. Read on to find out who and why.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman
Sen. Jeff Bingaman
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D): He’s signed on as a cosponsor of PIPA. Spokesperson Jude McCartin says that Bingaman is concerned about how intellectual property theft affects New Mexicans. In our state, she says, there’s a thriving TV and movie industry. “If ‘Breaking Bad’ is illegally downloaded from a website, that affects everyone who works on that show in New Mexico.” The cost of intellectual property infringement is $50 billion each year, “which translates to hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.,” McCartin says.

There’s an existing law, she says, that allows the courts to shut down and Internet site for illegal activity, such as child pornography. But U.S. laws don’t have international reach. PIPA requires Google and other search engines to stop linking to illegal sites, she says.

Calling it “censorship of the Internet,” she notes, is shorthand and creates misunderstanding. But the bill is not without its issues, she acknowledges, and Bingaman is working to make improvements on it before it exits the Senate.

Sen. Tom Udall
Sen. Tom Udall
Sen. Tom Udall (D): He’s also a cosponsor of the act. His office has received a number of calls and emails regarding PIPA. “A free and open Internet must also be protected, and some of the concerns with this bill are legitimate,” he says. A balance must be struck between protecting American jobs and businesses from online piracy, he adds, and allowing innovation on the web to go unhindered. Udall is working to make sure the bill is amended, according to spokesperson Dan Watson.

Rep. Steve Pearce
Rep. Steve Pearce
Rep. Steve Pearce (R): Southern New Mexico’s congressman opposes the measures. “I do not believe that the proponents of SOPA and PIPA have effectively demonstrated the need for this legislation,” he says. “The administration should focus on cracking down on countries that steal our intellectual property before we pass new laws.” Pearce also supports the blackouts, and says he stands by a person’s right to speak out in disagreement with the government. The bills could tie the hands of “small-market innovators who are the real engine of our economy, especially on the web,” he adds.

Rep. Martin Heinrich
Rep. Martin Heinrich
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D): Albuquerque’s congressional representative does not support the measures. Spokesperson Whitney Potter says “he believes this legislation could have unintended consequences that would increase cybersecurity risk and inhibit American innovation.”

Rep. Ben Luján
Rep. Ben Luján
Rep. Ben Luján (D): The congressman for Santa Fe and northern New Mexico is a cosponsor of SOPA. His office has gotten a lot of calls and emails about the measure. He’s talked about it during community outreach meetings. People have visited his office to chat about it. And folks have even stopped him in the grocery store. “I am taking a close look at their concerns and will take another hard look at the legislation and its impact.”

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Thousands of websites to protest SOPA tomorrow

The good kind of sopa. Let us not allow this other suspect SOPA to tarnish its good name.
The good kind of sopa. Let us not allow this other suspect SOPA to tarnish its good name.

You’ve probably heard that Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, Mozilla, TwitPic, WordPress and others will go dark tomorrow. Politico estimates about 7,000 sites will participate in the blackout.

Google will put a button on its homepage directing users to information about Stop Online Piracy Act, the bill these Internet giants are protesting.

The BBC broke down the controversy for us.

Here’s an explanation of how SOPA and its Senate twin PIPA could affect you.

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