Hearing of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - H.R. 5353, The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008
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REP. BONO MACK: It is not necessary for me to give a list of examples of how the Internet has impacted our lives; we have all heard these stories before in this committee. Additionally we are also all aware of the discussion surrounding network neutrality or network management, or whatever title each opposing side is trying to give the issue to gain an edge while making their argument.
This issue was highlighted in the hearings leading up to and the subsequent markup of the COPE Act in 2006, and the general talking points have not changed significantly since that time. What is clear to me is that H.R. 5353 would increase the government's hand in regulating the Internet. Both sides of this discussion make interesting points, however. Like most arguments which turn political, the volume increases and each side begins to speak past one another.
I think this is largely the case of the debate before us today.
It is also why I continue to feel advocating for strong intellectual property protections needs to remain at the forefront of all discussions related to the Internet. I have been very outspoken about ISPs and their efforts to crack down on illegal downloading. Additionally, it is widely understood that a theft of digital creations online, whether it be a movie, software or a song, has a terrible impact on our economy. In short, digital piracy results in the loss of American jobs.
I approach the issue at hand as I do most technological discussions, by asking myself what is best for the creators of content and the protection of intellectual property rights online. Today illegal downloading costs the creative community billions of dollars annually. It has also begun to take its toll on ISP networks. That is why I am pleased that ISPs and creative interests are acting in concert to take steps to calm that online piracy.
Can more be done by ISPs? Of course. Can the creative community do more? Yes. However, at a time when industry is beginning to address this issue, I think it would be remiss for us as a body to interfere in these efforts. I think this bill would do that.
I would also like to express my concern with relying on the FCC to combat piracy. We ask the commission to do a lot; in my opinion, sometimes they get it right and other times they don't. Regardless, most of the time decisions take awhile. In that context, I don't see how the FCC would be organizationally able to successfully combat something as complex as online piracy with an appropriate level of effectiveness.
I look forward to hearing the discussion today. Additionally I will closely follow the level of cooperation between ISPs and content creators in the fight against online piracy. While I am currently hopeful that industry can work together to tackle this problem, I will continue to ask, what is best for the creators of content and the protection of intellectual property rights online?
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome our -- (audio break) -- and I yield back the balance of my time.
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