November 29, 2011

Congress coming close to destroying the Internet

Protect IP Act & Stop Online Piracy Act seek to cripple Internet freedom & social media

Guest post by Markos Moulitsas
Daily Kos

Big Pharma and the recording and movie industries are on the verge of passing a bill that could very well destroy the social web, including Daily Kos.

This is no hyperbole. Watch the video above. It is literally an existentialist threat for Daily Kos and any other site with user-generated content, from Facebook, to Reddit, to tumblr, Sound Cloud or YouTube.

This is the holy grail of the entertainment industry — to destroy the internet, and thus, destroy the biggest danger to their business.

While the entertainment industry already has outsized tools to fight piracy, they don’t want to deal with the hassle of having to send takedown notices to individual infringing sites. It’s hard work, going after YouTubes of dancing babies and stuff! And, of course, they don’t have jurisdiction over many foreign-based sites. So, if they can’t stomp out all piracy, plan B is to destroy the internet.

Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy is inexplicably leading the charge in the Senate with the Protect IP Act. Republican Texas Rep. Lamar Smith is leading the companion bill in the House with the Stop Online Piracy Act. This bill would’ve been rushed through with no debate through both chambers had it not been for the singular efforts of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a true hero of grassroots media and the social web.

Wyden has put a hold on the bill in the Senate, and has promised a full filibuster. Currently, there appear to be 60 votes to overcome that filibuster, but the delaying tactics would tie up the Senate for a full week. And if it doesn’t pass this year, supporters have to start from scratch all over again next year — this time under the full glare of a spotlight. (Socialmedia.biz mentioned this issue in our coverage of the Web 2.0 Summit.)

Wyden is now being joined with Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington, Jerry Moran of Kansas (he’s a senator that exists) and Rand Paul of Kentucky (even a stopped clock …).

In the House, Nancy Pelosi has come out against the bill, which proves that this is not an ideological battle. And it shouldn’t be—no one outside Hollywood is served by destroying the internet. Social media has been key in the rise of both the tea party and the Occupy movements, as well as pro-democracy movements from the Ukraine to Egypt.

The LA Times and NY Times have both editorialized against the bills today. The LA Times writes:

Both bills go to risky extremes, however, in their efforts to stop these sites from attracting an audience. Of the two, the House bill goes further down the wrong path, weakening protections for companies — including those based in the United States — that enable users to store, publish or sell goods online. The change could force such companies to monitor everything their users do, turning them into a private security force for copyright and trademark owners.

We’ll have more info soon on what you can do to help stop this atrocity. You can also go to AmericanCensorship.org to learn more about these bills, and what you can do to help stop them.

See the following graphic for why these two bills are so dangerous.

SOPA infographic

This post was republished from the Daily Kos.

  • http://www.AgooBiz.com AgooBiz_SteveK

    It is truly disturbing if these bills have a strong chance of passing. Since many Americans tend to take their freedoms for granted, there's a mentality that has developed: people just believe that something so drastic as major Internet censorship can not possibly happen. My family escaped the Soviet Union because every aspect of our lives was governed by the USSR. We will never take our American freedoms for granted we'll fight to keep them at all costs.

    These bills, if passed, will destroy the free enterprise opportunities that every American has access to today. My own family-owned startup would not be possible because it relies primarily on Social Media, User generated content, Email Marketing campaigns, and e-commerce to survive. The barriers to entry into the Internet market would be so great that only large companies with massive capital would be competing.

    We need to oppose these bills at all costs! Just today I heard on the news that online sales are up this year by approx. 30%. The proposed legislations would destroy these stats.

    Steve Kavetsky
    Co-founder
    AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network
    “WE work greater than me”

  • http://www.AgooBiz.com AgooBiz_SteveK

    Just the fact that these bills have a strong chance of passing is disturbing enough (let alone them actually getting passed). We Americans tend to take many of our freedoms for granted because most of us have never actually had to live/survive under an oppressive regime.

    People need to snap out of their complacency and fight this type of legislation before it passes. My family escaped the Soviet Union where every aspect of our lives was governed by the USSR. The iron curtain was so powerful that for many decades the Soviet people did not even know how bad it was. The flip-side of this lack of knowledge is that we, Americans, do not know what liberties we have until these liberties are taken away (in the guise of “fraud prevention” and “our protection”).

    When our economy is as injured as it is today, and businesses are struggling, and new private sector jobs are NOT being created, passing these bills would “kick us while we're down” and change the Internet as we know it today. These bills would harm a thriving new industry (Social Media), sites that rely on user-created content, retailers, and new internet start-ups. My own family-owned start-up, AgooBiz.com, which relies heavily on user-contributions of content and e-commerce, would be impossible to open without a large amount of capital. We would be spending most of our time and money on policing the users and complying with unnecessary regulations instead of developing our business. By creating a huge barrier to entry into the industry, the bills (if passed) would hinder free enterprise and competition.

    We should all fight this legislation at all costs!

    Steve Kavetsky
    Co-Founder
    AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network
    “WE work greater than me”

    • jdlasica

      Completely agree, Steve. These bills haven't received the attention they deserve by the scandal-obsessed mainstream media.

  • http://www.san-diego-marketing.com/ San Diego Marketing

    I know there was an outrage of users, since this also apparently covers sharing sites like Megaupload. Some were even calling their representatives personally to express their vehement protest against this. I sincerely think this bill is a step too far, hopefully we won't see this get the green light.