The US Senate has approved a $5 billion bill to combat digital tapes, with supporters calling it a “digital tape tax” and a way to stop a growing threat to free speech online.
The measure, introduced by Senator Ted Cruz, would give states the authority to levy a digital tape tax on all digital tapes in their states, with those taxes applied to all digital content sold and downloaded in those states.
The digital tape measure would also allow states to require digital video recorders to have a physical copy of the content, a provision supporters say is critical to deterring piracy of the recording medium.
“The Senate bill will ensure that we don’t have an industry where people can illegally download, distribute, and sell pirated recordings of public speakers, artists, and other content,” said Cruz, a Republican.
“It will also ensure that all digital audio, video, and audio-visual recordings are stored and protected at the local, state, and federal level.”
The bill also allows states to issue a “no recording” order to recorders that sell digital tapes.
In addition, the bill would require state governments to “exercise due diligence” before imposing any recording tax on digital recordings.
It would also prohibit states from requiring that recording devices be installed within the state or to provide notification to users that a recording device is being used for a recording.
It also allows for a temporary restraining order against the recording of any person who is in the process of recording a public speech, if the recording occurs at a place of public assembly or is being performed in public.
“I am pleased that Senator Cruz is working to bring the Recording Industry Association of America to heel, and we hope the Senate will work with him to make sure this issue is dealt with in a bipartisan way,” said Kevin Kennedy, president of the Recording Rights Association.
The bill passed the Senate on Tuesday and heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
It also has the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who said it was a “good first step” in preventing the “digital tapes” tax from becoming law.
Cruz has previously called the tape tax “a major threat to the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans,” and told Breitbart News in an interview on Monday that the measure “will stop the proliferation of the digital tape.”
“This is a way of preventing the digital tapes from becoming the new ‘public record,’ the new record of our time,” Cruz said.
“If we don of course stop the digital recordings, we will create a new ‘digital record’ and we will lose the ability to speak freely on the Internet.”
Cruz said that the “Digital Tape Tax Act will help to restore the First and Fourth Amendments rights of all Americans.”
“The Digital Tape Tax will end the digital ‘digital tapes,’ and it will end government censorship of the Internet and all digital recordings,” he said.
Cruz said he believes the measure will have bipartisan support in the House.
“There are two members of the House that I know that voted for the bill,” he told Breitbart.
“I’m confident that they are going to support this bill.
I know they are voting for the digital tax bill.”
While the digital taping measure is not without support from members of both parties, it is not a sure thing to pass the Senate.
The House, on Monday, approved a bill that would allow the government to seize digital recordings of individuals who illegally download music and video, or have pirated them, under the guise of copyright infringement.
The bill also requires the government and the copyright owners to notify those recording users of the seizure.
The Digital Recording Industry Group (DIG), a trade group for the recording industry, has been critical of the measure, which has drawn criticism from the Recording Institute of America and other members of Congress.
“We are disappointed that Senator Ted Trump has rejected the bipartisan legislation that will ensure fair competition and consumer protection for our industry,” said David Sirota, president and CEO of DIG.
“This bill will help protect the rights of millions of ordinary people and prevent a digital record from becoming a new record.”