American Censorship Day: Stop Protect-IP and SOPA

Congress is trying to break the internet.

While I mean for the above sentence to be provocative, I’m not really indulging in hyperbole.

Please join me and my partners at Foundry Group in participating in American Censorship day tomorrow, Wednesday 11/16/11. There are two disturbing and potentially quite damaging bills making their way through Congress: the Protect IP Act (PIPA – S.968) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA – H.R.3261).

Like most legislation, neither bill actually does what their titles claim they do, and both basically amount to online censorship. These bills were fast-tracked through Congress with the support of Hollywood and Big Media, and stand a very real chance of getting passed unless members of Congress hear from their constituents.

Numerous organizations that support free speech and a free and open internet have come to oppose these bills, including the EFF, the Free Software Foundation, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, Fight For the Future, Participatory Politics Foundation and Creative Commons. They’ve organized tomorrow’s American Censorship Day, which occurs tomorrow and will protest these bills. If you run a website or blog, check out the American Censorship site to see how you can participate.

I encourage delving into the full text of these bills, but if you lack the time (or intestinal fortitude) to wade through them, here’s a short video that summarizes the potential impact and second order effects of this truly bad legislation:

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

My partner Brad Feld has written a good post on this topic, as has Fred Wilson, who appropriately writes that these bills undermine the architecture of the internet and threaten to destroy the innovation and entrepreneurship occurring on the internet, one of the few bright spots in our nation’s economy, and certainly where the future lies.

Please join me and my partners in speaking out against these terrible pieces of legislation.

  • SR

    After reading SOPA, I don’t see that it’s about censorship at all. It extends the copyright infringement protections already in place in other communications media to the Internet. Current copyright infringement laws don’t extend to the Internet. People steal copyrighted material and use it freely. This bill won’t shut down anythig unless there is material posted to which the poster has no ownership rights.

    Currently, the Internet is filled with movies and music that someone created and the use of their intellectual property takes their rights to the profits from their creation away from them.

    This bill would establish a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be dedicated to copyright infringment. The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against any site they deem to have “only limited purpose or use other than infringement,” and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. It would also make unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty up to five years in prison.

    • Shocked but Not Awed

      How can you possibly say that it is not about censorship. The bill doesn’t even allow for due process of the law to take place. The owner of the website doesn’t even have to be directly notified to have their site taken down. 
      The largest copyright infringements happen by corporations all the time. They owe lots of money to Canada for stealing music from them. They steal ideas from individuals because they have better lawyers and turn around to copyright stolen material. (Look at Disney and Mickey Mouse and how there is a 70 year limitation now. Wait until year 68 and I can almost promise they will try to up the copyright another 30 years) 
      Suppressing original thought by having a horrible patenting scheme and allowing only the truly rich keep control is making our progress fall very far behind other countries. 

      The DoJ already has a very bad track record, why would we want to give them more power to mess up even more? Don’t think they are doing bad? Look up the recent operations that sent guns to Mexico, or the imprisonment of 2 Alaskan Lawmakers, or how about the failure of the DOJ to get voting ballots out to our military on time for several years now. 

  • Noah Goucher

    Another big danger is with review sites like That Guy With the Glasses. Even though they’re protected by Fair Use, review videos have been threatened with lawsuits, such as when Tommy Wiseau forced a review to be off of the internet for almost a year. Heck, the whole reason the site was FOUNDED was because YouTube made him remove his reviews. Doug Walker and many other people rely on that site as their source of income, and taking it down would destroy their livelihood. Who’s to say that a big company like Fox or Disney won’t decide to take on this site for using footage from their movies? Tommy Wiseau isn’t a threat, but big studios are. This law is complete garbage and it’s no surprise to me that the MPAA is backing it up.

  • Brickhousedog

    Pretty much “”Communism””, I
    don’t care what you say, it’s just another thing the government can control underneath
    there dirty finger nails, they are already attacking are !!First Amendment
    Right!!, have you seen the abuse of law enforcement in New York on Wall Street,
    It’s like Congress as no respect for the people or the American Constitution Not
    to munching the First Amendment, and here it is incase if some of us forgot it
    (Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
    of the press, or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
    petition the Government for a redress of grievances) Oh wait I might get sued