January 26, 2012

Dear Mrs. Maxwell,

Thank you for contacting me regarding S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, or the “PROTECT IP Act of 2011.” I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The PROTECT IP Act is intended to slow or eliminate “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and would allow the Attorney General to seek an injunction from a federal court against foreign websites that engage in, enable, or facilitate infringement. I have cosponsored this legislation as copyright infringement costs New Mexicans jobs and financial loss. The motion picture and television industry is responsible for over 4,000 direct jobs and $146.8 million in wages in New Mexico alone, and copyright infringement takes money and jobs away from citizens and businesses in the state.

However, it has become clear that there are significant issues that need to be addressed with PROTECT IP before the Senate considers the legislation.  As you may know, prior to the Senate’s adjournment last year, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a vote on PROTECT IP for January 24, 2011.  On January 20th, Senator Reid announced that this vote would be postponed indefinitely.  I am pleased with this decision and am hopeful that additional time will help yield a compromise that helps crack down on copyright infringement, protects the jobs and wages of many New Mexicans, while also keeping the Internet open and secure.

Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) introduced S. 968 on May 12, 2011. After introduction the legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary where it was approved unanimously on July 22, 2011. As you may also be aware, Representative Lamar Smith (TX) introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2011. His bill, H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), is much broader in scope than the PROTECT IP Act, and many of the criticisms of both pieces of legislation surround misinformation related to SOPA.  A markup was held on this bill in the House Judiciary Committee on December 16, 2011, but on January 20, 2011, Congressman Smith announced that further action on SOPA was also postponed indefinitely.

Please be assured I will continue to closely monitor action around PROTECT IP and SOPA.  Online piracy is a serious issue with a real world impact on New Mexican businesses and jobs. Additionally, a free and open Internet also must be protected. We must strike a balance on this issue that allows innovation on the web to go unhindered and entrepreneurial ideas to flourish, without counterfeit products and illegally obtained materials hurting American companies and their employees.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please feel free to contact me with your concerns regarding any federal issue by visiting my website at http://www.tomudall.senate.gov.  For more information, you may also visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Senator-Tom-Udall/106433512869 and receive up to the minute updates through my Twitter page at http://twitter.com/senatortomudall.

Very truly yours,

Tom Udall

United States Senator