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Senate Majority Leader has promised that one of the first votes the Senate will take when it returns in a few weeks will be the Protect IP Act, the Senate's companion bill to SOPA in the House.

Tech giants like Google, Facebook PayPal, Wikipedia, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Amazon actively oppose the legislation, and are considering participating in an "Internet blackout" on January 23rd, the day before the Senate will begin debate on the bill. Most of these companies are throwing their support to the OPEN Act, an alternative bill championed by Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Darrell Issa.

These tech companies are now joined by a content providing trade association, the Online News Association, which "came out strongly against sweeping federal legislation aimed at curbing illegal copying and distribution of content online" this week.

Both bills have been the source of much wrangling over the past couple of months. But with the exception of a few stories reporting it as a battle between Internet giants including AOL, Google and Yahoo and powerful interests representing entertainment conglomerates such as Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America, journalists have said very little about the copyright legislation.

That is, until late December when the American Society of News Editors (apparently the first journalism association to do so) publicly came out against the legislation, saying the bills would inhibit the “free aggregation of content that has become central to online journalism.” ONA — representing editors, writers, technologists and others whose principal livelihood involves gathering or producing news for digital presentation — is now following suit. [...]

Allowing a court to decide whether content or a website should be blocked opens the door wider so that judges could decide who is and is not a journalist, according to James Losey, a policy analyst with the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative, which promotes regulatory reforms and policies that support a healthy media in a 21st century democracy.

For rights holders like journalists and news organizations, Losey said the legislation represents a power they do not want.

“It represents too much control over what information flows online,” Losey said. “I think what we’re seeing is a wake-up call for a lot of people, especially those who don’t normally pay attention to copyright legislation. This is not a copyright debate anymore. This legislation goes directly to tampering with how people use the Internet each and every day. It goes to how we mediate with our government and how we relate to our news. … If you start tampering with the basic interaction with the Internet and undermining free speech, you are effectively tampering with all aspects of online life, including access to information.”

There are still some pretty powerful entities fighting for this bad legislation, which is why Reid is hellbent on pushing it through the full Senate. But the opposition of journalist trade associations in addition to that of the tech giants will hep convince legislators to slow down, take a hard look at the sever problems with this legislation, and start over.

You can encourage your senators to do just that. E-mail them and ask them to oppose this bill when it comes to the floor later this month.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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