CEA’s Shapiro backs OPEN Act

Writing an op-ed piece in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, has strongly criticised the intentions of Nevada Senator Harry Reid to introduce the Protect IP Act (PIPA) to the Senate floor this month, backing instead the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN).

Highlighting innovation at International CES in Las Vegas, Shapiro noted that all Nevada politicians with one exception had attended and helped the host the annual global pilgrimage to Las Vegas. “Las Vegas’ role as a leader in innovation is somewhat ironic, given that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who has never once visited the CES, is a leader in efforts that oppose the type of innovation and technology fuelling CES and other events,” he wrote.

“Unlike the rest of the pro-CES, pro-innovation Nevada delegation, Sen. Reid stands alone. The current innovation-throttling legislative fad is focused on ‘Internet piracy’, Majority Leader Reid said he would bring the Protect IP Act (PIPA) to the Senate floor this month, despite it being opposed by virtually every innovation and technology company and almost everyone who understands and uses the Internet,” he continued.

Shapiro suggested this highlighted how out of touch Washington had become with modern communication and use of the Internet. “The goal of protecting intellectual property from digital theft is the right one, but the overreaching measure Sen. Reid is pushing swiftly through Congress will chill Internet innovation, economic progress and job growth. It’s a product of copyright extremists pouring money – more than $91 million in 2011, more than they’ve ever spent before – into influencing the legislative process,” he argued.

“There is an alternative. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., have proposed an alternative to PIPA called the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN), which would protect innovators’ rights while keeping the Internet free and open,” he suggested.

“We can be assured that there are some bright spots among our leadership, yet the overwhelming tone out of Washington remains hostile to innovation, entrepreneurship and business. With proposals such as PIPA, new mandates and rules, it is no wonder we continue to lose jobs to more business-friendly countries. Las Vegas, like America itself, is fighting for growth. With government leadership taking aim at business and innovation, our children will not enjoy the life we inherited,” he warned.

“Government has a responsibility not to screw up the one bright light in our economy. Innovators must be free to continue doing what they do best without government interfering to choose winners and losers or handicap markets. Only when government embraces the kind of innovation agenda embodied in the companies on display at International CES will we be able to restore America to its rightful place as the global leader in technology,” he concluded.

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