The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is just the kind of bill that could cripple Internet freedom in the name of a good cause. Everybody agrees that we need to battle online piracy of movies, books, TV shows and such. If piracy spreads, nobody will create anything because their work will be pirated as soon as it is finished.
But…this legislation, with its draconian enforcement powers, uses an atomic bomb to solve a problem best left to educated action by responsible individuals and normal litigation. The collateral damage from this bill could destroy Internet freedom.
The bill would let the Justice Department and copyright holders to get court orders against websites they accuse of enabling or encouraging copyright infringement. It could stop search engines from linking to such sites and require service providers to block access to them.
It should be called the Camel’s Nose In the Tent Act (CNITA). It would criminalize the Internet and make search engines the enforcers of copyright laws. It opens the tent to federal regulation and judicial activism that could drive search engines and internet service providers into bankruptcy through excessive court judgments and liability.
There is a remedy: Public education. None of us wants to kill off artistic creation. Each of us realizes that by abusing the system to get the goodies for free, we risk eliminating the goodies. We don’t litter because we don’t want to ruin our environment. We don’t run red lights because we don’t want traffic chaos. We wear seatbelts because we want to live. Law enforcement plays a role, but the greater influence is an educated public.
Copyright infringers can’t make it if we don’t buy it. Consumers need to realize that we will kill the golden goose if we steal his eggs! The way to regulate the internet is to use it sensibly and wisely and not to let Congress and the Justice Department in the door.
Please sign the attached petition to stop the online piracy act!