FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
We must defeat SOPA: Tech at Night Special
Ordinarily I use Tech at Night to cover a variety of topics that come my way, and I have them in my queue for tonight. But with over 30 items to consider and integrate, most of them on SOPA, I’m shelving the rest for Friday, and discussing just one topic tonight: We must defeat SOPA in the House. It is entirely unacceptable, and I believe worthy of primary challenges, for any Republican to back this bill. I’m going to make a list, and I’m going to make noise about this. I hope you do, too.
SOPA is the Stopping Online Piracy Act, the House’s counterpart to the Senate PROTECT IP act. SOPA contains a grab bag of provisions intended to stop copyright, trademark, and patent infringements abroad, but Title I of the bill is intolerable, fails to achieve its goals, and creates a massive power grab online for this man by applying unaccountable censorship and regulation to Americans on the Internet.
That’s right. Eric Holder has been dreaming of censoring the Internet since 1999, and House Republicans are thinking of giving him that power. At the time, the crisis that was the excuse for this censorship attempt was the murder plot at Columbine High School in Colorado. Now the excuse is that kiddies online are downloading Scary Movie 3, and buying fake hand bags. Give me a break.
Copyrights, trademarks, and patents matter. If we have a way to protect them from foreign attacks without overstepping our bounds, we should consider doing it. SOPA is not that way to do it. Watch any Republican who dares vote for this garbage, voting to put Hollywood over us, to give Eric Holder the power to bend over backward for Barack Obama’s Hollywood donors over the interests of everyone with a job created thanks to the Internet.
Disgraced former Senator Chris Dodd may say the MPAA is pro-Internet, but as the head of the MPAA it’s his job to say that. He’s lucky he head a fallback after he was forced to retire by the Countrywide scandal he was neck-deep in.
You know who’s more credible about Internet censorship than the MPAA? People who made their fortunes online. The founders of Google, Craig’s List, eBay, YouTube, the Internet Archive, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, another firms joined in a single letter opposing SOPA. They echo my warnings from way back when that SOPA creates the same problems for Americans online that Communist China creates for the Chinese online, denies due process, creates a permanent state of spying online, and undermines the fundamentals of the Internet in America.
The retort may be that four hundred companies came out for SOPA. No, they didn’t. The came out for a law to attack foreign infringers. They could have chosen to endorse SOPA and/or PROTECT IP. They chose not to. The same goes for the NGA who put out a similar call. I take them at their word.
Fortunately, there is another. SOPA gets a committee vote in the morning, but the OPEN Act is the way to go instead of SOPA. OPEN, the brainchild of California Republican Darrell Issa in the House, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden in the Senate, turns SOPA on its head. Instead of having America play the ostrich, censoring our Internet to pretend foreign infringers will just go away, OPEN applies decades of experience to use the ITC to attack foreign “e-parasites” where they live.
When Al Qaeda attacked us, we didn’t respond by sealing the border and permanently ending air travel. No, we cut off American funding, and took the fight to them. OPEN Act takes the fight to the foreign infringers, the “pirates” themselves.
SOPA proponents will say that Issa’s criticisms have been addressed by a manager’s amendment to the bill. But Lamar Smith’s changes are not good enough. It still censors the Internet, threatening our jobs and our leadership worldwide online.
Rand Paul is on board. Darrell Issa. Eric Schmidt. Arianna Huffington. Left and right, libertarian and authoritarian, Democrat and Republican, nearly nobody actually likes this bill, except for a few on Capitol Hill and the lobbyists who have convinced them to back a few big businesses. But the bill is moving through the process despite this huge public outcry. That just means we have to get louder.
Kill SOPA. Pass the OPEN Act to keep the Internet open, and to keep our jobs and innovation flowing, if you want to protect Americans from foreign ‘pirates.’ This is an obvious call, not to give Eric Holder this censorship power. Keep notes, folks. Watch every Republican who votes for this. Remember their names, and check on their primary races. Make it count.