Posted at 8:07 AM on January 23, 2012
by Brett Neely
Filed under: U.S. Senate
WASHINGTON - After staying quiet on the controversy surrounding bills in Congress that would tighten penalties on website illegally distributing copyrighted material, DFL Sen. Al Franken defended his support for the measures in a letter to supporters sent Friday night.
"If we don't protect our intellectual property, international criminals - as well as legitimate businesses like payment processors and ad networks - will continue to profit dishonestly from the work these Americans are doing every day," wrote Franken. "And that puts these millions of jobs at serious risk."
After widespread protests on the internet, including the blackout of prominent sites such as Wikipedia, Congressional support for the House and Senate bills, known as PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House, ebbed and on Friday leaders in both chambers pulled the bills from further consideration for now.
Franken has championed policies favored by the tech community such as a net neutrality and he opposed the now-shelved merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. But he angered many who supported his past policy stances by siding with the entertainment industry in the internet piracy debate. One liberal blogger told MPR News Friday that Franken's support for the bills could hurt his support with grassroots activists when he faces reelection in 2014.
The former actor and comedian's campaign committee has received extensive financial support from the entertainment industry.
Franken backed the decision to postpone consideration of the bills for now.
"[I]f holding off on this legislation gives us an opportunity to take a step back and try to bring everybody back to the table, I think it's the right thing to do," wrote Franken.
You can read the entirety of Franken's statement here.