Legislation could potentially shut down gun websites
By now, you are no doubt aware that several websites have either gone totally or partially “dark” today in protest of the pernicious internet legislation that will be coming to a vote next week.
Wikipedia and Google are just two of the websites which are protesting in this manner. And while you may have not paid much attention to this story, you need to know that the “muzzle the web” legislation these sites are protesting could also affect your ability to get gun-related information on websites like GOA’s.
The reason is that S. 968 could, in its final form, allow the Brady Campaign to partially shut down our GOA website and our organization (plus many other pro-gun websites) with a series of factually accurate, but legally frivolous complaints.·
The Senate bill and its House counterpart have accurately been called “a direct attack on the underpinnings of the web.”·
True, many of the most serious “gun problems” are in the House counterpart. But the reality is this: We are within a few votes of killing the whole concept next week in the Senate with only 41 Senate votes.·
But if we allow the so-called “anti-piracy” bill to go forward on the HOPE that the worst provisions will not make it into the final version -– and we fail to eliminate them -– the bill may be unstoppable.·
Here are the “gun problems,” as we see them:
Section 103(b)(1) of H.R. 3261 allows any “holder of an intellectual property right” to demand that PayPal and other payment and advertising services stop providing services to organizations like ours, thereby shutting off our income.·
How would they do this? Perhaps by arguing that we were stealing their intellectual property by quoting their lying misrepresentations in our alerts.·
Is this legally frivolous? Sure it is. But the Brady Campaign is the King of Frivolous Complaints:·
* Remember when the Brady Campaign asked the Federal Election Commission in 2007 to shut down GOA’s ability to post its candidate ratings on the Internet? They claimed that we were in violation of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Thankfully, the FEC ruled in GOA’s favor, thus enabling us to continue posting candidate ratings without restraint.·
* Remember when the Brady Campaign got 36 state and local jurisdictions to bring frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers –- not in the expectation of winning, but to drain the resources of the manufacturers in order to halt the manufacture of guns in America?·
This “muzzle the web” legislation will throw the doors open to even more frivolous complaints. Could we defend ourselves? Yes, we could. We could file a counter notification under section 103(b)(5) and spend years defending ourselves. But the one thing we did learn during the 36 frivolous lawsuits is that the anti-gun forces in America have very deep pockets.·
And the other problem is that, under section 104, our Internet providers would be insulated from liability for shutting us down. But they would receive no comparable insulation from legal liability if they refused to cut us off.·
The Senate version, S. 968, has been amended, at the behest of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and others, to provide many protections which were not in its initial form.·
Under section 3, the Attorney General would go to court and would have to claim that, because of a hyperlink to an offending site, we were “primarily” engaged in the theft of intellectual property.·
We would feel a lot better about these protections if the Attorney General were not Eric Holder, a ruthless ideologue who has demonstrated that he will go to any lengths to destroy the Second Amendment.·
So the bottom line is this: H.R. 3261 and S. 968 would potentially empower the Brady Campaign and Eric Holder to go after our Internet site. To do so, they would have to make the same frivolous arguments and engage in the same lawless activity that they have done so often in the past.·
But -– given that we’re within a few votes of snuffing out that risk by killing the bill in the Senate -– we believe it’s the better course of action to do so.
UPDATE!: Friday, January 20th:
Business Week: Google Says 7 Million Signed Petition Against Anti-Piracy Bills
Google Inc. said yesterday it collected more than 7 million signatures from the U.S. for its online petition to Congress during an Internet protest against anti-piracy legislation backed by Hollywood.
Visitors to Google, the world’s most popular search engine, were greeted Jan. 18 by a black box covering the company’s familiar icon, and a message that read “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the Web!”
Internet companies say the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate would promote online censorship, disrupt the Web’s architecture and harm their ability to innovate. The movie and music industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business-lobbying group, back the legislation as a means to fight piracy by websites that operate outside the U.S.
Websites are upending traditional lobbying in Washington, with the day of protest leading 13 lawmakers who co-sponsored the legislation to begin withdrawing support for the bills.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that shut the English language version of its website for 24 hours to protest the bills, said more than 162 million people saw the blackout page posted yesterday. More than 8 million U.S. readers looked up their elected representatives through the blackout page to protest the measures, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation Inc., which runs the Wikipedia site, said in a statement yesterday.
Thirteen U.S. lawmakers who co-sponsored the anti-piracy legislation, eight in the Senate and five House members, began withdrawing their support for the measures. The Senate has a procedural vote scheduled for Jan. 24 on proceeding with its bill, the Protect IP Act.
Co-sponsors who say they can no longer support the Senate legislation as written include Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John Boozman of Arkansas, David Vitter of Louisiana, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire as well as Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Jan. 18 he couldn’t support the bill moving forward next week.
Republican Representatives Ben Quayle of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Dennis Ross of Florida and Democratic Representative Tim Holden of Pennsylvania said they would stop backing the House measure.
The House bill is H.R. 3261 and the Senate bill is S. 968.