Sunday, January 08, 2012

How the Stop Online Piracy Act Got To Washington and What's Next #SOPA #PIPA

Video from Public Knowledge on the legislative history of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).  Over 71k views on YouTube.

More from Public Knowledge here on the expected cloture vote on January 24 to end the announced filibuster.  Three fifths of the Senate must support cloture (cutting off debate) for the bill to realistically proceed.  Senator Harry Reid is expected to make the cloture motion unless enough opposition arises between now and then.   Many organizations are urging citizens to contact their Senators now to urge opposition.

From Sen. Reid's website here:

Cyber Security to Protect America’s Entrepreneurs from IP Theft: Senate Democrats will seek to enact legislation to enhance our nation’s cyber security and promote the development of a well-educated, well-trained cyber workforce. Improving cyber security across government agencies, critical infrastructure, and the private sector will prevent theft of the intellectual property that is a key engine of the U.S. economy, create a jobs-rich market in security technologies and evaluation, and prevent the cyber attacks that now cost American businesses millions of dollars per year. The legislation will also expand research and development, education, and training programs designed to produce a well-qualified cyber security workforce, a highly competitive tech sector, and the continuing superiority of American innovation.
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What the critics at Public Knowledge say here:

If made law, PIPA (S. 968) would...

  • Enable removing access to websites before those websites have the chance to defend themselves in court, raising substantial concerns about the bill's impact on free speech and the First Amendment, and giving rise to a situation that is ripe for abuse.
  • Define a number of key terms broadly enough to potentially harm many legitimate and beneficial services. For example, PIPA adds "information location tools" to the list of intermediaries that can be issued an injunction, making nearly every actor on the Internet potentially subject to enforcement.
  • Have an unintended impact on the safe harbor status of services like YouTube because they specifically target sites that "enable or facilitate" infringement, and also requires action by third parties such as online service providers, financial transaction providers, and ad networks.
  • Create conflicts between DNS servers by requiring the operators of certain domain name servers to blacklist certain DNS requests—you can see the potential for instability in the system.
  • This instability could also lead to increased cybersecurity risks, including cyber attacks and identity theft, as users migrate to offshore DNS providers not subject to PIPA's provisions.
  • Possibly lead to retaliation by foreign governments to take similar action against U.S. websites.
  • Seriously undermine a key value in our foreign policy—how could we, as a country, support openness and access in communication and condemn the use of DNS blocking, when we are doing it ourselves?
  • Risk setting a precedent for other countries to justify measures that would hinder online freedom of expression and association.
(highlighting supplied).
Mike Masnick at Techdirt summarizes the actions that are being taken to stop PIPA when Congress gets back in session later this month here and how SOPA is part of Hollywood's history of trying to kill innovation here.

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website:
How Do Intellectual Property Rights Drive Innovation?

As Abraham Lincoln said, “the patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius…” IP protections ensure that American scientists, engineers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and innovators recoup their investment and are rewarded for their work, incentivizing them to develop new ideas.

The patent system is the engine of the idea factory. In exchange for exclusive rights for a limited period of time, the inventor must publicly disclose the technical know-how behind a new invention. This allows other innovators to leverage past discoveries, constantly injecting new ideas into the public domain.

Congress ought to take the time to engage in the meaningful legislative process outlined in Bill Patry's excellent and newly-published How To Fix Copyright, which I reviewed here, with Patry's spirited response here (no Bill, I don't think you're churlish!)
 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2011 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

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