This is a letter that I wrote to my representatives this morning, Rep. Jay Inslee, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray.
Internet Issues: SOPA/PIPA
I am a Washington State voter, and I want to urge you to denounce, reject and vote against the SOPA & PIPA bills currently working their way through Congress.
The MPAA/RIAA lobbyists (who naturally have an anti-technology, pro-censorship bias) have managed to get our “representatives” to push these bills into Congress in an attempt to allow private corporations to censor the Internet.
The Internet is a public utility. What if AT&T or Verizon could decide who you were allowed to call? Or who was allowed to have a telephone number at all? What if FedEx or UPS were allowed to decide whether or not you had an address to deliver packages to?
It’s anti-American, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s just plain wrong.
When the opportunity to vote on these bills comes your way, please vote with the people you represent — not with the lobbyists.
P.S. I find it interesting that there is no “Internet Issues” selection on your contact form. “Internet” is different from “Science and Technology”. It’s 2012. The Internet is a critical component of how people communicate and get work done.
I would encourage you to pay attention to pro-Internet voters, because there is an entire generation of millennials who will very soon make up the majority of American voters.
I encourage you all to contact your representatives in government and let them know about your disapproval of these laws (in America), or similar laws in other countries.
Update: Response from Sen. Maria Cantwell
Dear Mr. Parman,
Thank you for contacting me about the internet streaming of copyrighted material. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
This isn’t what I contacted you about, and both SOPA/PIPA go way beyond the simple law enforcement of streaming copyrighted material.
On May 12, 2011, Senator Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. While I am supportive of the goals of the bill, I am deeply concerned that the definitions and the means by which the legislation seeks to accomplish these goals will have unintended consequences and hurt innovation, job creation, and threaten online speech and security. On November 17, 2011, I signed a letter along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) objecting to the bill as it is currently written.
You are correct. This is really, really bad.
On December 17, 2011, Senator Wyden introduced the “Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade” (OPEN) Act (S. 2029), of which I am an original co-sponsor.
/me raises eyebrow…
The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where it is currently awaiting further review. The OPEN Act is a more effective approach to stopping foreign web sites that are found to be primarily and willfully used to infringe intellectual property rights. The OPEN Act builds on the existing legal framework used by the International Trade Commission for addressing unfair acts in the importation of articles into the United States, or in their sale for importation, or sale within the United States after importation.
The United States government is working beyond the realm of its jurisdiction here. It might be currently legal, but this is still a bad thing. Who determines what “primarily and willfully used to infringe intellectual property rights” even means? How is this really any better?
And you’re a co-sponsor of this legislation?
Our trade laws have yet to catch up to deal with the global digital economy.
Incredibly, incredibly true. As a matter of fact, copyright law itself can be placed in this very same bucket.
The OPEN Act recognizes that the Internet has created new opportunities for foreign products to reach the U.S. market and that there is little difference between downloading a pirated movie from a foreign website and importing a counterfeit movie DVD from a foreign company. For those foreign web sites that are determined after an investigation to be primarily and willfully infringing, the International Trade Commission will issue a “Cease and Desist” order. The “Cease and Desist” order may also be served on financial intermediaries that provide services to that foreign web site, compelling financial payment processors and online advertising providers to cease doing business with the foreign site in question. This would cut off financial incentives for this illegal activity and deter these unfair imports from reaching the U.S. market.
Pay attention, because this is important: THIS IS ENTIRELY THE WRONG SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM.
The entertainment industry has failed to innovate. They have failed to remain competitive. People want digital content. The entertainment industry has the opportunity to provide that to their customers. The fact that they often choose not to is not the fault of pirates. This is not the government’s problem to solve. Additional legislation is not the correct solution.
The OPEN Act addresses the same challenges as the PROTECT IP Act, while protecting freedom of speech, innovation, and security on the Internet.
The challenge of rogue web sites is one that many nation’s face.
Provide an objective definition of “rogue web site”. Also, you have a grammatical error here. You don’t use an apostrophe when pluralizing words — like “nation”.
The United State has always been seen as a leader on Internet issues.
No. No we have not. Especially in the 13 years since the Digital Revolution was ignited.
And we are the “United States”, not the “United State”.
Laws we establish in the United States regarding the Internet are likely to be used as models around the world.
You’re right. And the purpose of creating laws is (or rather, should be) to protect the freedoms of individual citizens, not to further limit our freedoms. Remember that.
And because the Internet is global in nature, it is important that we carefully consider how the laws and policies we adopt in this area may be received and translated by other countries.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
Sen. Cantwell, your lack of understanding of the core of the issue at hand makes me realize that you are not a person who truly represents the people of this state.
You will not be receiving a vote from me come election day.