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Utah senators, congressman oppose anti-piracy legislation

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 18 2012 6:05 p.m. MST

Senator Orrin Hatch talks with delegates during the 2011 Republican State Convention Saturday, June 18, 2011 at South Towne Exposition Center.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on SOPA

WASHINGTON — As Google Inc., Wikipedia and other websites protested anti-piracy legislation Wednesday, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, dropped his co-sponsorship of the bill.

Also, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, reaffirmed his opposition to the Protect IP Act as did Rep. Jim Matheson, Utah's lone Democrat in Congress.

“After listening to the concerns on both sides of the debate over the Protect IP Act, it is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward," Hatch said.

Though intellectual property theft is a growing problem that must be combated, Hatch said he can't support moving the Senate bill ahead because of its potential for unintended consequences.

The movie and music industries back the Senate's PIPA and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House as a means to crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods by non-U.S. websites. Hollywood studios want Congress to ensure that Internet companies such as Google share responsibility for curbing the distribution of pirated films and television shows.

Lee, who declined to sign on as a co-sponsor, said he will continue to oppose the Senate bill unless changes are made.

“While I am sympathetic to the basic objectives of the Protect IP Act, I have consistently expressed concern that several of its provisions would threaten Internet security, stifle the free flow of online information and unduly burden third parties," he said.

Matheson opposes both PIPA and SOPA, saying that while they attempt to address online piracy, they are ill-conceived and could harm the open, dynamic innovation made possible by the Internet.

“It’s wrong to pass bills that could censor information on the Internet — stifling innovation and interfering with the livelihood of businesses on the Internet," he said. "This is a complicated issue, and Congress should obtain much more stakeholder involvement as it addresses the issue.”

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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