I’m leaving in an hour for Bonaire, and am a jumpy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. But before I leave, I wanted to write to my two senators about the pending Stop Online Piracy Act/ Protect IP Act. These bills would require sites that allegedly host pirated material to be shut down– not to remove the material, but to remove the entire site. My hosting company has weighed in and so have the creators of WordPress. This is what I sent to Senators Kerry and Brown:
I have never written to an elected official before, but I feel strongly enough about the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) that I feel I must write to ask you to PLEASE not vote for them.
I have been a web developer for over 10 years, and recently started my own blog (tedohara.net). These acts propose tinkering with the DNS system in the name of blocking theft of intellectual property. We already have tools to deal with IP theft, such as the DMCA. Currently, if an IP owner feels they have a grievance, they can file a request to have the offending resource removed from a site. SOPA would shutter the entire site, without allowing the site owner any recourse or hearing.
Furthermore, to my mind, there’s a LOT of potential for mischief here, especially for sites that allow for user provided content. (Mine does not). Say for example, there was a political site that had message boards, and allowed users to upload content. Someone in opposition to that site could upload some protected content (possibly using a proxy), then have the site shut down for being in violation. In addition, big companies have deeper pockets and can afford to drag on legal proceedings. Small companies and individuals cannot.
As Apple has shown, the way to deal with online piracy is to compete with it. They’ve shown that if you can make it easy to download content legally and at a fair price, most people would rather do that. While I do agree that creators do have the right to protect their rights to their creations, these bills are heavy handed and go far beyond what is necessary.
America is not like this. America is about freedom of expression, not censorship. America is about due process of law, not about taking heavy handed action to shut entities without recourse.
I’m asking you to please stand for freedom.