You may or may not be following the SOPA / E-PARASITE controversy. If not, as website owners, you should be. The SOPA/E-PARASITE/PROTECT IP bills, summarized below, are a huge injustice to our rights, and the American way.
The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright — a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification. The intention is not the same as China’s Great Firewall, a nationwide system of Web censorship, but the practical effect could be similar.
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team has done an excellent job of getting the word out and getting website owners and the web community involved. Below is a video to help you better understand whats going on, and whats at stake.
Count PRO-Webs as a company doing our part to put down this injustice, we have signed the petition at We the People which has 52,096 signatures, educated customers and acquaintances alike. As a result of our signing of the petition to STOP SOPA, we received an email from the Whitehouse. I am sharing it with you in its entirety below.
Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet
By Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra, and Howard Schmidt
Thanks for taking the time to sign this petition. Both your words and actions illustrate the importance of maintaining an open and democratic Internet.
Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the
very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA),
the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the Online Protection and
Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN). We want to take this opportunity to tell you
what the Administration will support—and what we will not support. Any effective
legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from
content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem
that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation
that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines
the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of
online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our
dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of
the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and
society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be
narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover
activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively
tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any
provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks,
payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to
prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified
litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the
underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper
with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the
Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the
DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a
real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services
accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous,
unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the
deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American
economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and
hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and
entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews,
and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are
strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights,
existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond
our borders. That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work
together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and
rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S.
borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this
response. We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of
legitimate American values.
This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage
all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform
providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to
reduce online piracy.
So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself:
Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to
do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many of members of Congress are asking
for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those
opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer
of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a
conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and
soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your
questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.
Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue
websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American
artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all
interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global
intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet.
Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important
Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis
on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy
and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the
values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation. Again, thank you
for taking the time to participate in this important process. We hope you’ll
continue to be part of it.
Victoria Espinel is Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at
Office of Management and Budget
Aneesh Chopra is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Assistant to the
President and Associate Director for Technology at the Office of Science and
Howard Schmidt is Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity
Coordinator for National Security Staff
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