Sen. Ernest Hollings’ bill is backed by media firms such as The Walt Disney Co., who fear fast Internet connections and an array of digital devices such as MP3 players and CD burners will encourage consumers to seek free copies of hit singles and new movies.
A grass-roots group called DigitalConsumer.org, which did not exist a month ago, claims to have signed up 24,000 members, who have sent off 80,000 faxes to their elected representatives.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which has also held hearings on the issue, has received more than 3,500 comments criticizing the bill, a spokeswoman said.
“We haven’t received one e-mail in support of the Hollings bill,” said Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Mimi Devlin. “It seems like there’s a groundswell of support from regular users.”
In testimony before Hollings’ Commerce and Science Committee last month, Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner accused technology firms like Intel Corp. INTC.O of profiting from digital piracy, and said they were not interested in working out a way to stop the problem.
“They seem satisfied to try to attack it in the press rather than trying to make it work,” said Hollings spokesman Andy Davis.
The Hollings bill also faces opposition from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, whose Judiciary Committee handles copyright issues.
While the Commerce Committee has primary control over the bill, it will be difficult to pass without the cooperation of Leahy and other Judiciary Committee members, staffers from both committees said.