Supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act Protest Day
As my co-blogger Gerard notes, today is SOPA protest day. Sites like Google or WordPress have censored their logo or offered up a away to contact your congressperson, though remain live. Other sites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Craigslist have shutdown, and more are set to shut down at some point today. There’s lots of terrific commentary on SOPA, which is designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music, and other products–but with a heavy hand that threatens free expression and due process. The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Schatz has this story and Politico has another helpful piece; The Hill’s Brendan Sasso’s Twitter feed has lots of terrific updates. Mark Lemley, David Levine, and David Post carefully explain why we ought to reject SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act in “Don’t Break the Internet” published by Stanford Law Review Online. In the face of the protest, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) vowed to bring SOPA to a vote in his committee next month. “I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property,” he said. So, too, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pushed back against websites planning to shut down today in protest of his bill. “Much of what has been claimed about the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act is flatly wrong and seems intended more to stoke fear and concern than to shed light or foster workable solutions. The PROTECT IP Act will not affect Wikipedia, will not affect reddit, and will not affect any website that has any legitimate use,” Chairman Leahy said. Everyone’s abuzz on the issue, and rightly so. I spoke at a panel on intermediary liability at the Congressional Internet Caucus’ State of the Net conference and everyone wanted to talk about SOPA. I’m hoping that the black out and other shows of disapproval will convince our representatives in the House and Senate to back off the most troubling parts of the bill. As fabulous guest blogger Derek Bambauer argues, we need to bring greater care and thought to the issue of Internet censorship. Cybersecurity is at issue too, and we need to pay attention. Derek may be right that both bills may go nowhere, especially given Silicon Valley’s concerted lobbying efforts against the bills. But we will have to watch to see if Representative Smith lives up to his promise to bring SOPA back to committee and if Senator Leahy remains as committed to PROTECT IP Act in a few weeks as he is today.