Millions of Americans oppose SOPA and PIPA because these bills would censor the Internet and slow economic growth in the U.S.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
3,000,000+: petition signatures
113,000: petitions to White House
204: entrepreneurs’ letters of protest
110: law professors
55: leading venture capitalists
41: human rights organizations
39: advocacy groups & public interest organizations (ACLU)
17: Internet company founders
9: Internet & technology companies’ letters
5: Internet security experts’ white paper
1: Vint Cerf (one of Internet’s founding father) objects
Alexis Ohanian - Reddit Founder, Engine Advocacy Member
KNOW THE FACTS
America's innovation economy could be put in danger, by “Great Firewall of America” if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) pass.
PIPA will cause grievous harm to the underlying foundations of the internet.
PIPA will put an undue burden on site managers, app developers and internet entrepreneurs.
PIPA will leave the internet open to censorship and allow bad actors to take frivolous legal action against sites with which they disagree.
This legislation creates an internet open to censorship, insecure and wildly divergent from the internet we know and use every day, which drives global commerce, and which, in the end, powers America’s net job growth.
L.A. Times: “SOPA and PIPA opponents warn the bills are not dead yet”
-- Jim Puzzanghera in Washington -- January 19, 2012 | 10:21 am
A day after a widespread Internet protest, key opponents of SOPA and PIPA warned Thursday that the controversial online piracy bills are not dead yet and called for lawmakers to slow down and start over.
"It's not dead at all," said Michael Petricone, vice president of government affairs for the Consumer Electronics Assn., noting that the Senate was still scheduled to hold a procedural vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act on Tuesday.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, Petricone and others said opponents needed to continue to pressure Congress to remove the legislation from the fast track and start a more open process to craft a narrower bill that would not threaten collateral damage on legitimate websites.
“You have all kinds of very substantive, very smart interests who are bringing up very substantive potential problems with this bill," Petricone said. "Why can’t we step back and get it right? This isn’t the Patriot Act; the country’s not going to blow up if we don’t enact this next week."
Lawmakers' ears were still ringing from the thousands of calls and emails that flooded into Capitol Hill after Wikipedia led about 10,000 websites in a 24-hour blackout Wednesday to protest the bills. At least five co-sponsors of the bills publicly pulled their support, with several others announcing they would not vote for the legislation without major changes.
The lead sponsors of the bills have promised to make changes and are expected to remove the most controversial provision, which would allow Internet service providers to block access to foreign-based piracy sites. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the lead backer of PIPA, is working on a set of amendments he plans to unveil before Tuesday's vote.
The cautions about the fight not being over were echoed by Wikipedia, whose English-language version was easily accessible again Thursday. A banner at the top of the site reads, "Thank you for protecting Wikipedia. (We're not done yet)."
"SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows," Wikipedia said on a page linked from that banner. "We’re turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly."
Markham Erickson, who heads a coalition of Internet companies, said Congress needed to take more time to get the legislation right.
"There are solutions, but we need to step back and reset," said Erickson, whose NetCoalition includes Google Inc., Amazon.com, EBay and Yahoo Inc. "Instead of having to negotiate with a gun to our head, so to speak, let’s sit down and have a data-driven process."
He and other SOPA and PIPA opponents are looking toward legislation introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who have been two of the strongest congressional opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Their Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, known as the OPEN Act, is a much narrower approach that would try to cut off the money to foreign piracy sites through the U.S. International Trade Commission. The entertainment industry and other supporters of SOPA and PIPA said such an approach would not be as effective in shutting down foreign piracy sites.
But opponents of SOPA and PIPA said they liked the process Issa and Wyden have used in crafting their bill. The two lawmakers released a draft last year at www.KeepTheWebOpen.com and said they revised it to reflect some of the more than 150 substantive comments and suggested improvements received from visitors to the site.
The Internet flexes its muscles with blackout
Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout
Blackout: Sites gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills
Photo: Protesters in New York on Wednesday demonstrate against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
January 18, 2012 2:57 AM
SOPA, PIPA: What you need to know
Having trouble using Wikipedia today? That's because the popular crowd-sourced online encyclopedia is participating in an "Internet blackout" in protest of two controversial anti-piracy bills: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Pictures: Websites go dark to protest SOPA
The bills are intended to strengthen protections against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, but Internet advocates say they would stifle expression on the World Wide Web. In essence, the legislation has pitted content providers -- like the music and film industries -- against Silicon Valley. CBS Corporation is among the media and entertainment companies that support the legislation.
"It's not a battle of left versus right," said progressive activist Adam Green, whose organization Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Tuesday hosted a press conference with opponents of the bills. "Frankly, it's a battle of old versus new."
Here's a basic look at the actions taking place today and the legislation causing all the fuss.
What's going on today?
The popular link-sharing site Reddit got the ball rolling for today's 24-hour Internet blackout. In addition to Reddit and Wikipedia, other sites participating include BoingBoing, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, MoveOn.org and the ICanHasCheezBurger network. Search giant Google is showing its solidarity with a protest doodle and message: "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web," but the site planned no complete blackout.
Other sites -- like Facebook and Twitter -- oppose the legislation in question but aren't participating in today's blackout.
In addition to the Internet-based protests, some opponents are physically protesting on Wednesday outside of their congressional representatives' offices. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said in Tuesday's press conference it will "probably be the geekiest, most rational protest ever."
What does the legislation do?
There are already laws that protect copyrighted material, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). But while the DMCA focuses on removing specific, unauthorized content from the Internet, SOPA and PIPA instead target the platform -- that is, the site hosting the unauthorized content.
The bills would give the Justice Department the power to go after foreign websites willfully committing or facilitating intellectual property theft -- "rogue" sites like The Pirate Bay. The government would be able to force U.S.-based companies, like Internet service providers, credit card companies and online advertisers, to cut off ties with those sites.
Why content providers want SOPA and PIPA
Content groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and business representatives like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argue that innovation and jobs in content-creating industries are threatened by growing Internet piracy. Overseas websites, they argue, are a safe haven for Internet pirates profiting off their content.
According to the Global Intellectual Property Center, which is part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, intellectual property-intensive sectors employ more than 19 million people in the U.S. and create $7.7 trillion in gross output. Foreign website operators currently outside the bounds of U.S. law; SOPA and PIPA would help quell illegitimate Internet activity.
In a statement, former Sen. Chris Dodd, who is now chairman and CEO of the MPAA, called the blackout day a "gimmick."
"It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests," Dodd said.
CBS Corporation, which owns CBSNews.com, is a member of the Copyright Alliance -- an industry group representing content producers that supports SOPA and PIPA.
Why Internet companies oppose SOPA and PIPA
Internet companies and their investors would readily say that they're holding the "blackout" to protect their corporate interests -- and the entire burgeoning Internet-based economy.
"The success of Reddit... is one of the smaller examples of the success that has happened in our industry -- and will continue to unless bills like SOPA or PIPA become law," Ohanian said Tuesday.
Under the rules SOPA or PIPA would impose, Ohanian and others argue, start ups wouldn't be able to handle the costs that come with defending their sites against possible violations. Such sites would not be able to pay the large teams of lawyers that established sites like Google or Facebook can afford.
The legislation in question targets foreign companies whose primary purpose is to sell stolen or counterfeit goods -- but opponents say domestic companies could still be held liable for linking to their content. While sites like Reddit wouldn't have a legal duty to monitor their sites all the time, "you might have your pants sued off of you" if you don't, said Jayme White, staff director for the Senate Finance Subcommittee on international trade.
Brad Burnham, managing partner at the venture capital fund Union Square Ventures, said his company has avoided investing in companies related to the music industry because of the copyright risks -- but under the proposed legislation, that risk would hit just about any Internet company. SOPA and PIPA, he said, "takes the risk of frivolous litigation... to the entire Internet."
That should be a concern, Burnham said, when the Internet accounts for 21 percent of economic growth among developed nations, according to one study.
The impacts could go beyond the economy, some argue. Rebecca MacKinnon, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan New America Foundation, argues that if blogging platforms are motivated to monitor their content, that could have "a tremendous chilling effect on people tyring to conduct political discourse and trying to use content in a fair use context."
Where does the legislation stand?
Opponents of SOPA and PIPA celebrated when, earlier this month, authors of both bills decided to set aside the most controversial aspect of them -- language that would have let the Justice Department force Internet Service Providers to block the domains of suspected foreign "rogue" sites. Also, over the weekend, the White House suggested it wants to see modifications to the legislation.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on PIPA on January 24.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who sponsored SOPA, said Tuesday he expects the committee to continue work on the House bill in February.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., meanwhile, is opposed to the legislation and will today officially introduce an alternative -- the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. Issa said Tuesday he expects his bill to have more co-sponsors than SOPA has in the House and that "once members of Congress see a viable alternative... I think we can get to a consensus."
The OPEN Act would make the International Trade Commission, rather than the Justice Department, responsible for policing U.S. connections to foreign rogue sites. Placing that responsibility in the hands of one entity, rather than the whole court system, would make the process more transparent, Issa argues.
Websites go dark to protest SOPA
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What Are SOPA and PIPA And Why All The Fuss? - Forbes
1 day ago – Visitors to Google.com see a blacked out logo and a link to an online petition Knowing that Wikipedia would go dark for 24 hours in protest to ...
SOPA and PIPA: The wrong tools to combat online piracy - The ...
17 hours ago – Free speech and common sense demand a better and more thoughtful law than SOPA and PIPA.
SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts | PCWorld
by Jared Newman · in 763 Google+ circles · More by Jared Newman
1 day ago – The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) have been making headlines, but what are they, exactly? Here are the facts.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) have been making headlines, but what are they, exactly? Here are the facts.
By Jared Newman, PCWorld
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act are getting more negative attention, as major websites such as Wikipedia plan to protest the bills with blackouts on Wednesday. Even Google will join the action, with a link on its homepage explaining why the company opposes the legislation.
But what are SOPA and PIPA, exactly, and why are tech luminaries lambasting legislation aimed at stamping out copyright infringement? Read on for a full explanation.
SOPA and PIPA: The Basics
Media companies are always looking for new ways to fight piracy. They've tried suing individual users, getting Internet service providers to take action against subscribers, and working with the U.S. government to shut down domains based in the United States. But none of those actions can stop overseas websites such as The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload from infringing copyrights, or prevent Internet users from accessing those sites.
Enter SOPA, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and PIPA, in the U.S. Senate. Both bills are aimed at foreign websites that infringe copyrighted material. The bills are commonly associated with media piracy, but may also apply to counterfeit consumer goods and medication.
Originally, both bills provided two methods for fighting copyright infringement on foreign websites. In one method, the U.S. Department of Justice could seek court orders requiring Internet service providers to block the domain names of infringing sites. For example, Comcast could prevent its customers from accessing thepiratebay.org, although the underlying IP address would still be reachable. This ISP-blocking provision was a major concern among Internet security experts, and both SOPA and PIPA have dropped it.
The other tool would allow rights holders to seek court orders requiring payment providers, advertisers, and search engines to stop doing business with an infringing site. In other words, rights holders would be able to request that funding be cut off from an infringing site, and that search links to that site be removed. The site in question would have five days to appeal any action taken.
Although the House and Senate bills are similar, SOPA is the more extreme of the two. It defines a "foreign infringing site" as any site that is "committing or facilitating" copyright infringement, whereas PIPA is limited to sites with "no significant use other than" copyright infringement. More details on SOPA and PIPA are available through the Library of Congress website.
Arguments for and Against SOPA and PIPA
Opponents of SOPA and PIPA believe that neither piece of legislation does enough to protect against false accusations. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues, provisions in the bill grant immunity to payment processors and ad networks that cut off sites based on a reasonable belief of infringement, so even if claims turn out to be false, only the site suffers. "The standard for immunity is incredibly low and the potential for abuse is off the charts," says the EFF.
Meanwhile, sites that host user-generated content will be under pressure to closely monitor users' behavior. That monitoring already happens on larger sites such as YouTube, but it could be a huge liability for startups, the EFF argues.
Some progressive pundits have argued that media companies are trying to legislate their way out of what's really a business-model problem. "As we've seen over and over again, the most successful (by far) 'attack' against piracy is awesome new platforms that give customers what they want, such as Spotify and Netflix," TechDirt's Mike Masnick writes.
SOPA and PIPA supporters argue that prophecies of a broken Internet are overblown. Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, writes that SOPA clearly defines infringing sites based on Supreme Court holdings and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and requires rights holders to follow a strict set of rules when trying to get payment cut off to an infringing site. False claims, Sherman argues, "can result in damages, including costs and attorneys' fees."
Sherman also points out that previous actions against infringing sites, such as the MGM vs. Grokster case in 2005, triggered similar doomsday predictions from the tech industry, yet digital music innovation has flourished since then.
Who's for SOPA and PIPA, and Who's Against?
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is the author of SOPA, which is backed by 31 cosponsors in the House. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) wrote PIPA, which has 40 cosponsors in the Senate. ProPublica has a visualized list of supporters in both the House and Senate.
The White House has expressed concerns about the bills in their current state, writing in a statement that "any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet."
As for outside parties, the list of SOPA supporters consists mostly of media companies, including record labels, TV networks, movie studios, and book publishers. Some companies with an interest in fighting sales of other counterfeit goods, such as beauty-product maker Revlon and pharmaceutical company Pfizer, also appear on the list.
Opposition to SOPA and PIPA is strong in the tech sector. An open letter to Washington speaking out against the legislation was signed by founders of Craigslist, eBay, Google, Mozilla, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others.
In the middle are companies at the intersection of media and technology. Many video game publishers have stayed silent on the matter while their trade group, the Entertainment Software Association, supports the bills. The Business Software Alliance originally supported the bill, but withdrew its support after deciding that the legislation went too far. As for Apple and Microsoft, which are both BSA members, the former has not come out publicly for or against SOPA or PIPA, while the latter now says that it opposes SOPA "as currently drafted."
Where Are SOPA and PIPA Now?
Both bills have taken a hit in the last week, as their authors have decided to remove the provisions that require Internet service providers to block the domain names of infringing sites. SOPA, which has yet to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee, is reportedly stalled, as lawmakers continue to work on the bill. Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) has proposed an alternative bill that is far more narrow in its focus.
Voting on PIPA, however, is scheduled to begin in the Senate on January 24.
UPDATE: (2pm ET 1/18) Now two U.S. Senators are withdrawing their sponsorships of PIPA. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, wrote on Facebook that although he has a strong interest in stopping piracy, "we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies." Senator Roy Blunt, of Missouri, also bailed on the bill, writing on Facebook that "the Protect IP Act is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward."