SAY NO TO "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)"
  • Petitioned Al Franken / Amy Klobuchar

This petition was delivered to:

Al Franken / Amy Klobuchar

SAY NO TO "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)"

    1. Kevin Jensen
    2. Petition by

      Kevin Jensen

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.[2] Now before the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the Protect IP Act.[3]

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.[4]

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites.[5] Opponents say that it infringes on First Amendment rights, is Internet censorship,[6] will cripple the Internet,[7] and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech.[8]

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on SOPA on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee is scheduled to continue debate when Congress returns from its winter recess.[9]

 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has expressed opposition to the bill, as well as Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX), who joined nine Democrats to sign a letter to other House members warning that the bill would cause "an explosion of innovation-killing lawsuits and litigation."[80] "Issa said the legislation is beyond repair and must be rewritten from scratch," reported The Hill.[81] Issa and Lofgren have announced plans for legislation offering "a copyright enforcement process modeled after the U.S. International Trade Commission's (ITC) patent infringement investigations."[29]
EFF home page with American Censorship Day banner
Organizations

Opponents of the bill include Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, the Wikimedia Foundation,[82] and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders,[83] the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch.[84][85]

On December 13, Julian Sanchez of the Libertarian think tank Cato Institute came out in strong opposition to the bill saying that while the amended version "trims or softens a few of the most egregious provisions of the original proposal...the fundamental problem with SOPA has never been these details; it’s the core idea. The core idea is still to create an Internet blacklist..."[86]

The Library Copyright Alliance (including the American Library Association) objects to the broadened definition of "willful infringement" and the introduction of felony penalties for noncommercial streaming infringement, stating that these changes could encourage criminal prosecution of libraries.[87]

On November 16, Tumblr, Mozilla, Techdirt, the Center for Democracy and Technology were among many other Internet companies that protested the Stop Online Piracy Act by participating in a so-called "American Censorship Day". They displayed black banners over their site logos with the words "STOP CENSORSHIP".[88] On November 22 Mike Masnick for Techdirt published a detailed criticism of the ideas underlying the bill, writing that "one could argue that the entire Internet enables or facilitates infringement", and saying that a list of sites compiled by the entertainment industry included the personal site of one of their own artists, 50 Cent, and a wide variety of highly successful legitimate internet companies. The article questioned the effect of the bill on $2 trillion in GDP and 3.1 million jobs, with a host of consequential problems on investment, liability, and innovation.[89][90] Paul Graham, the founder of venture capital company Y Combinator opposes the bill, and bans all SOPA-supporting companies from their "demo day" events. "If these companies are so clueless about technology that they think SOPA is a good idea," he asks, "how could they be good investors?"[91]

The Center for Democracy and Technology maintains a list of SOPA and PIPA opponents consisting of the editorial boards of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, 34 organizations, and many hundreds of prominent individuals.[92]
Other

In December 2011, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales initiated discussion with editors regarding a potential knowledge blackout, a protest inspired by a successful campaign by the Italian-language Wikipedia to block the Italian DDL intercettazioni bill, terms of which would have infringed the encyclopedia's editorial independence. Editors mulled interrupting service for one or more days as in the Italian protest, or alternatively presenting site visitors with a blanked page directing them to further information before permitting them to complete searches.[93][94]

Computer scientist Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet and Google vice president, wrote House committee chairman Lamar Smith, saying "Requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented 'censorship' of the Web," in a letter published on CNet.[95][96]

In November 18, 2001, the European Union Parliament adopted by a large majority a resolution that "stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names."[97][98]

On December 15, 2011 a second hearing was scheduled to amend and vote on SOPA. Many opponents remain firm on their opposition to the act after Lamar Smith proposed a 71-page amendment to the bill to address previously raised concerns. NetCoalition, who works with Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook, appreciated that Lamar Smith is trying to address the issues with the bill, but says it nonetheless cannot support the amendment.[99] Darell Issa, a Republican who proposed an alternative to SOPA, stated that Smith’s amendment, “retains the fundamental flaws of its predecessor by blocking Americans' ability to access websites, imposing costly regulation on Web companies and giving Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice broad new powers to police the Internet.”[99]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 50 signatures
    2. GoDaddy lost 72,354 domains this week. It's not enough.

      Kevin Jensen
      Petition Organizer

      Despite a massive Twitter campaign and a blog post that claims “Go Daddy no longer supports SOPA legislation” the company and their CEO have dodged questions about opposing the bill. In essence, they are taking a lesser role by not showing support for the bill. They have not opposed it.

      This week, they lost around 72,000 domain registrations. At a yearly discounted rate of $6.99 (most registrations are higher), that’s over half a million dollars per year. It is apparently not enough for them to speak out against the bill.

      How many domains is the company willing to lose before they oppose this abomination of legislation? Do they believe that when they “step back and let others take leadership roles” that we are going to see it as something other than a “duck and cover” public relations move to try to get out of the spotlight and hope someone else takes the brunt of the attacks while they quietly support the bill?

      Is 72,354 domains enough?

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Mike Poucki MINNEAPOLIS MN, MN
      • almost 3 years ago

      Cause and Effect. If this legislation is not stopped before it is passed, the damage that will be done to the infrastructure of the internet and peoples lives around the country and world, will be overwhelmingly hard to reverse.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Janet Komada LAKEWOOD, OH
      • almost 3 years ago

      I am an American who can no longer remain silent as our government and big business steal our liberties. The U.S. will join the list of other governments that censor the internet like China, N, Korea, Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Not a good list to be on!!!

      Our government no longer represents us. We must unite to stop the greed and corruption so we can once again have a government by the people, for the people.

      They steal away our liberties, jobs, homes, and our future. With the help of our government not one bankster was audited, charged, jailed or held accountable for the looting of America. While thousands of citizens were pepper sprayed, beaten, arrested and denied their 1st Amendment rights for protesting their fraud, bailouts, and bonuses paid for by you.

      If you’re here signing a petition then consider joining a group of your choice. Be loud; be visible so our government can see our numbers. Our country was started with citizens protesting and throughout our history has brought about our greatest changes. Freedom is not free; sometimes you have to fight for it.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Maneesh Pangasa YUMA, AZ
      • almost 3 years ago

      These Internet Blacklist bills amount to Internet censorship. If one Facebook user links to or posts in an infringing way copyrighted material online the entire website could be shut down for all users including non-infrnging users without due process, amounting to a real government takeover of the Internet and one that benefits big media in the short term at everyone else's expense. This year the movie industry made $30 billion (a third of it in the U.S.) from box-office revenue. But the total movie industry revenue was $87 billion. Where did the other $57 billion come from?

      The music and movie business has been consistently wrong in its claims that new platforms and channels would be the end of its businesses. In each case, the new technology produced a new market far larger than the impact it had on the existing market.

      •1920's: The record business complained about radio. The argument was because radio is free, you can't compete with free. No one was ever going to buy music again.

      •1940's: Movie studios had to divest their distribution channel - they owned over 50% of the movie theaters in the U.S. "It's all over," complained the studios. In fact, the number of screens went from 17,000 in 1948 to 38,000 today.

      •1950's: Broadcast television was free; the threat was cable television. Studios argued that their free TV content couldn't compete with paid.

      •1970's: Video Cassette Recorders (VCR's) were going to be the end of the movie business. The movie businesses and its lobbying arm MPAA fought it with "end of the world" hyperbola. The reality? After the VCR was introduced, studio revenues took off like a rocket. With a new channel of distribution, home movie rentals surpassed movie theater tickets.

      •1998: The MPAA got congress to pass the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( DCMA), making it illegal for you to make a digital copy of a DVD that you actually purchased.

      •2000: Digital Video Recorders (DVR) like TiVo allowing consumer to skip commercials was going to be the end of the TV business. DVR's reignite interest in TV.

      •2006: Broadcasters sued Cablevision (and lost) to prevent the launch of a cloud-based DVR to its customers.

      Today it's the Internet that's going to put the studios out of business. Sound familiar?

      Why was the movie industry consistently wrong? And why do they continue to fight new technology?

      The movie industry was born with a single technical standard - 35mm film, and for decades had a single way to distribute its content - movie theaters (which until 1948 the studios owned.) It was 75 years until studios had to deal with technology changing their platform and distribution channel. And when it happened (cable, VCR's, DVD's, DVR's, the Internet,) it was a relentless onslaught. The studios responded by trying to shut down the new technology and/or distribution channels through legislation and the courts.

      Regulation/Legislation

      But why does the movie business think their solution is in Washington and legislation? History and success.

      In the 1920's individual states were beginning to censor movies and the federal government was threatening to do so as well. The studios set up their own self-censorship and rating system keeping most sex and politics off the screen for 40 years. Never again wanting to be at the losing side of a political battle they created the movie industry's lobbying arm, MPAA.

      By the 1960's, the MPPA achieved regulatory capture (where an industry co-opts the very people who are regulating it) when they hired Jack Valenti, who ran the studios' lobbying efforts for the next 38 years. Ironically, it was Valenti's skill in hobbling competitive innovation that negated any need for studios to develop agility, vision and technology leadership.

      Management of Innovation

      The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to existing markets, particularly to content/copyright owners whose sell through well-established distribution channels. The incumbents tend to have short-sighted goals and often fail to recognize that more money can be made on new platforms and distribution channels.

      In an industry facing constant technology shifts the exec staff and boards of the studios have lawyers, MBAs and financial managers, but no management skill in dealing with disruption. So they rely on lobbying ($110 million a year), lawsuits, campaign contributions (wonder why the President won't be vetoing SOPA?) and Public Relations.

      Ironically, the six major movie studios have a great technology lab in Silicon Valley with projects in streaming rights, Video On Demand, Ultraviolet, etc. But lacking the support from the studio CEOs or boards, the lab languishes in the backwaters of the studios' strategy. Instead of leading with new technology, the studios lead with litigation, legislation and lobbying. (Imagine if the $110 million/year spent on lobbying went to disruptive innovation.)

      Piracy

      One of the claims that studios make is that they need legislation to stop piracy. The fact is piracy is rampant in all forms of commerce. Video games and software have been targets since their inception. Grocery and retail stores euphemistically call it shrinkage. Credit card companies call it fraud. But none use regulation as often as the movie studios to solve a business problem. And none are so willing to do collateral damage to other innovative industries (VCRs, DVRs, cloud storage and now the Internet itself.)

      The studios don't even pretend that this legislation benefits consumers. It's all about protecting short-term profit.

      SOPA

      When lawyers, MBAs and financial managers run your industry and your lobbyists are ex-Senators, understanding technology and innovation is not one of your core capabilities. The SOPA bill (and DNS blocking) is what happens when someone with the title of anti-piracy or copyright lawyer has greater clout than your head of new technology. SOPA gives corporations unprecedented power to censor almost any site on the Internet.

      History has shown that time and market forces provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology is a video recorder, a personal computer, an MP3 player or now the Net. It's prudent for courts and congress to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude.

      What the music and movie industry should be doing in Washington is promoting legislation to adapt copyright law to new technology- and then leading the transition to the new platforms.

      The U.S. State Department has been championing the Internet Freedom initiative across the world. Secretary of State Clinton said, "...when ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled, and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us."

      It's too bad the head of the MPAA - an ex Senator - made a mockery of her words when he wondered "why our online censorship can't be like China?" We wonder, "Why can't the film industry innovate like Silicon Valley?"

      Lessons Learned

      •Studios are run by financial managers who have no corporate DNA to exploit disruptive innovation

      •Studio anti-piracy/copyright lawyers trump their technologists

      •Studios have no concern about collateral damage as long as it optimizes their revenue

      •Studios110M/year lobbying and political donations trump consumer objections

      •Politicians votes will follow the money unless it will cost them an election

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