THE FRIDAY FOCUS
This week’s Focus is H.R.3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act or as you may more commonly know it as SOPA. It is sponsored by Lamar Smith (R-TX), who apparently needs his head examined. Did he think legalizing a tactic like #Attackwatch on a grand scale would go over well? Especially of Obama were to win a second term and Holder hadn’t been removed? Think of what that DOJ corrupt mental midget would do with that kind of power. Think of all the enemies that would be punished!
SOPA is made up of two separate bills that have been merged to create 3261. First is S.968 – PROTECT IP Act of 2011 introduced by Senator Lahey (D-VT) and Second is S.978 – Commercial Felony Streaming Act introduced by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). I encourage everyone to explore these bills via the links provided, especially the money trail links on each one. It is worth noting that both Senators of the original bills serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
S.968 is summarized here (emphasis mine):
Establishes a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against the alleged infringer and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. In some cases, action could be taken to block sites without first allowing the alleged infringer to defend themselves in court.
S.978 is summarized here (emphasis mine):
Makes unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty of up to 5 years in prison. Illegal streaming of copyrighted content is defined in the bill as an offense that “consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works” and has a total economic value, either to the copyright holder or the infringer, of at least $2,500.
HR.3261 is summarized here (emphasis mine):
This bill would establish a system for taking down websites that the Justice Department determines to be dedicated to copyright infringment. The DoJ or the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against any site they deem to have “only limited purpose or use other than infringement,” and the DoJ would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services block access to the targeted site. It would also make unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a felony with a possible penalty up to five years in prison. This bill combines two separate Senate bills — S.968 and S.978 — into one big House bill.
Full Official Summary of SOPA – HR.3261 is found here. Follow this bill’s Money trail here. Note the very first supporter of this bill is the AFL-CIO. The rest of the list includes many big names in legacy media.
I’ve read both of the feeder bills to SOPA and immediately recognized the censorship capability it wields. In the hands of the DOJ, this could be used as a blacklisting tool to silence critics, control traffic flow and even censor political candidates and that is just for starters.
Imagine what this will mean to that little blog you do on the weekends if you decide to post that funny video you saw on YouTube and are later slapped with a $2,500 fine without warning while being hauled off to jail for up to 5 years? What if you decide to write a political blog and your opinion is unwanted by any given person at the DOJ with their hand on the blackout button?
I am in support of upholding copyright laws, but this is not the way. The burden to protect one’s work falls on the creator not the viewer. Those supporting it I am sure are made up of those wanting to protect their property, however I see dollar signs everywhere I look in this bill. Governments have used policies like this to silence their people — very recently too, if one recalls the Arab Spring and the ongoing Great Firewall of China as examples.
This bill represents censorship and an attempt to control both our freedom of speech as well as the virtual marketplace. This is a clear First Amendment assault. SOPA is beyond unconstitutional and it cannot be allowed to pass.
Darrell Issa is leading the charge countering SOPA with Keep the Web Open. The bill can also be viewed there and where you can suggest changes and alterations yourself. I would ask you to also visit this piece by the Lonely Conservative which captures the political possibilities and also discusses Issa’s #OPEN idea. The example TLC excerpts is frightening and very possible under SOPA as it is now written.
Call your representative or easily send a letter to your representatives by using the tool on the right hand side of the page.