“Is Congress about to limit freedom of speech on the Internet? Two bills wending their way through the Senate and the House may do just that.” — James Gattuso and Paul Rosenzweig
Today Mike Brownfield (Heritage’s The Foundry) explains the background of “An Internet Blackout Over SOPA and PIPA” –
“As of midnight, Wikipedia is shut down for 24 hours, and hundreds of other popular websites have gone dark right along with it. They are standing together in protest of two controversial pieces of legislation that threaten Internet security and undermine the freedom of speech all in an effort to crack down on online “piracy” — the illegal distribution of copyrighted material.
Hollywood, the music industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have gone to bat on behalf of the proposed laws on the grounds that they will help protect valuable copyrighted property. And while the goal is laudable, the ends don’t justify the means. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act have far-reaching consequences for the Internet’s infrastructure, individual liberties, and innovation in the digital age. [Underscoring Forum’s.]
Under the laws, upon a court order, third-party companies and websites would be forced to crack down on rogue websites — and even ones that unwittingly host or link to material that may violate copyrights or trademarks, whether or not they have knowledge of the violation. Internet service providers would be required to block Internet addresses of offending sites — a measure that Internet engineers warn could threaten Internet security. Search engines would be prohibited from including pirate sites in search results, a requirement that goes well beyond current law and may, in fact, violate the First Amendment. Heritage’s James Gattuso and Paul Rosenzweig explain ramifications ….”
The vigilant watchers at RedState spell out the political struggle against that ill-advised proposal.
Wrote RedState chief Erick Erickson this morning –
“Today many websites around the world are shutting down to protest the potential effects of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, Protect IP.
At RedState, we are temporarily suspending publication of new content today to oppose SOPA and PROTECT IP.
Both pieces of legislation are overly broad and give too much power to the Attorney General to shut down websites that may be innocent of piracy, but are accused of being engaged in online piracy.
Both pieces of legislation are written by old men who need young staffers just to tweet and run their Facebook accounts. The sponsors probably have no idea how far reaching and damaging their legislation is.”
And a little earlier this morning, Erickson reported –
“The following are sponsors of Protect IP in the Senate originally introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Both Republicans and Democrats should pledge to unite and primary these members of the Senate, however much we may love them, for pushing such harmful legislation.
If they don’t want to be primaried, they should stop sponsoring this crap. At the same time, I’m not going to primary my side unless the left primaries their side.
Next to each name is the date they signed on as a co-sponsor. Kudos to Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas for withdrawing as a sponsor . . . .”
RedState’s Neil Stevens sketched the heavy lifting required to halt SOPA –
“We celebrated Monday when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor effectively signaled the death of SOPA, the Stopping Online Piracy Act. Cantor said the Internet censorship bill would not see a vote until there was consensus on the matter. As long as Darrell Issa, Justin Amash, and Jason Chaffetz are on the case there will be no consensus on sweeping Internet censorship, so Cantor’s position basically kills SOPA this Congress.
This was a well earned victory for conservatives, and we owe the above allies thanks for sticking up for our values against formidable opposition. Barack Obama refused to pledge a SOPA veto even in the face of a massive petition from his supporters. Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith sponsored the bill, and notable tech leaders like Marsha Blackburn co-sponsored it. Well-funded groups like AFL-CIO, MPAA, and RIAA all lined up behind it. [Underscoring Forum’s.]
It took everything we had to be heard on this. Our movement could hold nothing back. Erick Erickson himself had to threaten a primary challenge to Blackburn, and he was right to do it. But we got our way, and we should be glad.”
And Tim Griffin declares (RedState) –
“I am especially disappointed in a co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6). He has been an outspoken tool of big business against the people of the United States and their freedom on the internet.”
Virginian Griffin adds —
“Goodlatte isn’t simply a co-sponsor, he helped shape this bill as the chairman of the IP subcommittee.”
The Tea Parties were and (are) primarily about liberty — but the House of Representatives majority they helped elect apparently has difficulty absorbing that goal. The enormous political energy required to take the wheels off SOPA is just the most recent evidence of that majority’s lack of interest in giving priority to guarding our freedom effectively.