Back online after SOPA/PIPA blackout; congressional statements

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stopsopa.jpgBatesLine was offline yesterday, Wednesday, January 18, 2012, in protest of two draconian bills that could be used to suppress free speech on the Internet. In the course of the day, in which major sites, like Wikipedia, and thousands of minor sites went dark, many members of Congress spoke for the first time about the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Sen. Inhofe's statement in opposition to PIPA:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On a day when many internet websites have blacked out their content in opposition to measures being considered by Congress, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), joined the effort by announcing his opposition to those same bills. In the below statement, Inhofe outlines his opposition to S.968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (also called the PROTECT-IP Act or PIPA). PIPA's related bill in the House is H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA):

"While I believe that the intellectual property rights of American companies deserve substantial protection under the law, S. 968, the PROTECT-IP Act, is not the answer to the problem of online counterfeiting and piracy. I share the concerns of America's technology companies, industry leaders, and the many citizens who have voiced their concerns to my office. It is clear to me that this bill will inflict too heavy a burden on third-party non-infringing entities and could do serious harm to one of the last vestiges that is relatively free from government regulation, the Internet. When addressing intellectual property rights, Congress must be careful to also protect the freedom of speech and flow of information that the Internet provides. Additionally, I have concerns with creating yet another private right of action, which will be used by plaintiffs to stifle Internet innovation, and with requirements in the bill that could negatively impact the Internet's reliability and performance."


Congressman John Sullivan statement on Facebook:

I appreciate the thousands of comments, emails and phone calls today on SOPA. Like my constituents, I also have significant concerns that this legislation, as currently written, limits our First Amendment right to free speech on the Internet. I do believe Congress should address legislation to protect intellectual property rights, BUT must be mindful that the bills intended to protect honest American innovators are not doing more harm than good.

Here's what I had posted as the sole accessible page on the site yesterday:

It's not hard to imagine a member of Tulsa's Cockroach Caucus using influence in Washington to turn a bogus charge of intellectual property violations into the Attorney General ordering a DNS blackout of BatesLine. To help you imagine what that might be like, BatesLine is going dark today. All attempts to access other BatesLine pages will lead back to this page.

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is one of seven Protect IP Act (PIPA) co-sponsors who last Friday asked Majority Leader Harry Reid not to hold a vote on PIPA, because of the outcry against the bill. Jim Inhofe does not have a public position on the issue, according to, nor does Congressman John Sullivan. (UPDATE: Inhofe issued statement in opposition to PIPA, the Senate bill, today, and Sullivan posted a statement on Facebook. See below.)

From Wikipedia, a leader of the SOPA/PIPA blackout:

The Wikipedia community has blacked out the English version of Wikipedia for 24 hours on January 18th to raise awareness about legislation being proposed by the U.S. Congress -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate -- and to encourage readers to speak out against it. This legislation, if passed, will harm the free and open Internet. If you are in the United States, let your congressional representative know what you think of the proposed legislation by clicking here....

SOPA and PIPA are real threats to the free and open Internet. Although recent media reports have suggested that the bills are losing support, they are not dead. On January 17th, SOPA's sponsor said the bill will be discussed and pushed forward in early February. PIPA could be debated in the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. There is a need to send a strong message that bills like SOPA and PIPA must not move forward: they will cause too much damage.

Although the bills have been amended since their introduction, they are still deeply problematic. Among other serious problems in the current draft of the bills, the requirement exists for US-based sites to actively police links to purported infringing sites. These kinds of self-policing activities are non-sustainable for large, global sites - including ones like Wikipedia. The legislative language is ambiguous and overly broad, even though it touches on protected speech. Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is worse than the disease.... its current form, SOPA would require U.S. sites to take on the heavy burden of actively policing third-party links for infringing content. And even with the DNS provisions removed, the bill would give the U.S. government extraordinary and loosely-defined powers to take control over content and information on the free web. Taking one bad provision out doesn't make the bills okay, and regardless, Internet experts agree they won't even be effective in their main goal: halting copyright infringement.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 19, 2012 1:17 AM.

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