Under Rule VII of the Rules of the Senate, bills can only move forward by unanimous consent. Consequently, a single senator may place a “hold” on a bill to keep it from passing. In principle, the rule exists to ensure that any senator may suspend the legislative process in order to review and research a proposal, particularly in cases where his or her state has a keen interest. In practice, of course, senate holds are wielded like one-man filibusters that often mask ulterior motives. Holds are meant to be contemplative pause buttons, not kill switches. Since last September, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has maintained a hold on the small-claim copyright provision known as the CASE Act. This bill would create a voluntary, small-claim tribunal conducted by a newly created Copyright Claims Board (CCB) at the U.S. Copyright Office.
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