Today the House Judiciary Committee spent four hours debating HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, despite early successes of momentum against it. No vote was taken.
Yesterday, many of those those who get their news from newspapers saw an ad taken out in major papers around the country by a few names you might recognize. It read:
We've all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.
However, we're worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act--which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online--will undermine that framework.
These two pieces of legislation threaten to:
- Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
- Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
- Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and
- Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.
We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.
It was signed by the founders and co-founders of Netscape, Google, Twitter, Flickr, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, The Huffington Post, YouTube, PayPal, craigslist, eBay, Wikipedia, and more. Unfortunately, their lobbying spend pales in comparison to that of the entertainment industry, which spent $185.5 million on lobbying in 2010. Many of those names and others have suggested alternatives to SOPA, including the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, introduced last week as a way of using the existing process for combatting overseas copyright infringement at home.
“We never tried to filter the telephone networks to block illegal content on the telephone network. Yet that is precisely what this legislation would do relative to the Internet,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).
There's no shortage of discussion online regarding the potential effects of the act, which is no surprise, since it would have huge implications for every single person who enjoys the state of the Internet as we know it. I thought I'd offer a roundup of those reflecting on the effects on specific interests, situations, and websites. Here are thoughts from around the web on how SOPA would affect:
- Business and innovation
- Internet industries
- Those outside the US
- Tech startups
- Students, educators, and libraries
- Gaming, anime, indie publishers
Today's debate included an amendment that would have been a small positive step--not requiring universities or research institutions to blacklist sites. But that amendment was defeated. SOPA is the third attempt at this type of legislation, which began with COICA, followed by PROTECT-IP. SOPA appears to be creeping unfortunately closer to being the one that wins.