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.
The DoJ has already proven how inept it is, not only as an agency, but at "administering" sites it deems unfit. There are numerous accounts of the DoJ seizing sites that are benign and not involved in any sort of illegal activity:
The blatant disregard for our freedom as Americans as well as the freedom of those who are not US citizens is appalling. Not only has the DoJ slapped its own citizens in the face, but has also shown its ignorance of the sovereignty of other nations.
No one within that organization (or I suspect within Congress) has a technical understanding of the implications of their actions or this bill. Stopping child pornography is one great feat that our government wants to stop, albeit one that does not seem to be one that should be my government's main concern in the current economic blunder it brought upon itself.
Your constituents privacy and freedom are the top priorities of an elected official and this bill impedes on those rights. Stop pretending that as our representatives you know anything about the intricacies of things like packet shaping, HTTP requests or even how DNS servers operate.
Policies effecting these will turn out as they always have, chosen by the people. We made the internet great. We create and we exchange the information.
The government has no right to stop us from doing so and neither do our misguided and ill-informed representatives who create and support bills like these.
For current news or to sign up to receive my E-News Flashes, please visit http://www.house.gov/dingell.
December 14, 2011
Mr. James Holby
5450 Wessex Court, Apartment 103
Dearborn, Michigan 48126-2678
Dear Mr. Holby:
Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 3261, the Stop
Online Piracy Act (SOPA) of 2011. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX)
introduced H.R. 3261 on October 26, 2011. This legislation gives new
authorities to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat foreign
web sites which sell or distribute subject matter protected by federal
intellectual property laws. Specifically, the Attorney General would
be authorized to seek an injunction from a federal court against a
domain name used by a foreign website that promotes infringement or the
sale of counterfeit goods. Such a court order may then be served on
U.S.-based domain name servers, Internet advertisers, search engines,
and financial transaction providers. These parties would have to take
actions such as preventing access to the website or suspending business
services to the site.
SOPA has generated much controversy since its introduction.
Critics claim it is an "internet censorship" bill and that it tramples
free speech rights. There are also concerns that focusing on
intermediary services, such as non-authoritative domain name servers,
will disrupt the technical integrity of the Internet. Supporters of
the legislation, however, argue that in order to reduce digital piracy
and online counterfeiting committed by foreign websites, new
enforcement mechanisms are vital for U.S. economic growth and needed to
protect public health and safety.
The problem of Internet piracy is an important issue which
demands our attention. I believe we can strike a reasonable balance
between preserving open access to the Internet and providing the
necessary protections for intellectual property rights. H.R. 3261 was
referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Although I do not
sit on that Committee, you can rest assured I will keep your comments
in mind should this legislation come before me for a vote.
Again, thank you for being in touch. For news on current federal
legislative issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/dingell
my e-newsletter. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me
again if I may be of assistance with this or any other matter of
With every good wish,
Member of Congress
Dear Mr. Holby:
Thank you for contacting me about the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act of 2011 (S.968). I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me.
Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the PROTECT IP Act aims to safeguard intellectual property on the Internet from foreign websites dedicated to illegal infringing activities. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are legal rights granted by governments to encourage and reward innovation. These rights ensure that inventors reap the benefits of their work. Through IPRs, governments grant a temporary, legal monopoly to innovators by giving them the right to control the use of their creations by others. IPRs also allow inventors to trade or license their work to others in return for fees and/or royalty payments.
The PROTECT IP Act would authorize the Attorney General or the owner of an IPR harmed by an Internet site dedicated to infringement activities (ISDIA) to take a number of steps to act against the operator or owner of an ISDIA site. U.S. industries that rely on the protection of IPRs contribute significantly to U.S. economic growth, employment, and international trade. Counterfeiting and online piracy in other countries may result in revenue losses in the billions of dollars for American firms, as well as the loss of American jobs. Additionally, health and public safety advocates are troubled by the potential consequences of counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs and other products.
Concerns have been raised that the PROTECT IP Act would stifle innovation and openness on the Internet and would restrict Americans? free speech. Opponents of the bill also have claimed that it would place an unfair and unworkable regulatory burden on Internet companies and would weaken Internet security.
I am concerned about the current version of the bill. I have been meeting with people on all sides of the issue and hearing from many constituents. After scheduling a vote on to the PROTECT IP Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on January 20th that Senate consideration of the bill would be postponed, citing legitimate concerns that had been raised about the bill. I think this was the right course of action given the large number of issues that have been raised. Senator Reid encouraged Senator Leahy to work with the various stakeholders to resolve their concerns with the PROTECT IP Act. I will review the revised version carefully when it is available.
Thank you again for writing.
Note to Congressional staff & elected officials reading this: this letter was sent through Contact-Congress features on OpenCongress.org, a free public resource website, but in the future we seek to compel the U.S. Congress to adopt fully open technology for constituent communications. For more information how your office can better handle public feedback through an open API and open standards, contact us -- even today, there are significantly more efficient and responsive ways for our elected officials to receive email feedback than the status quo of individual webforms. For greater public accountability in government, we must make the process of writing one's members of Congress more accessible and empowering. Looking ahead, we will release more data from Contact-Congress letters and Congressional response rates back into the public commons. This will result in a new open data source on bills & issues people care about, as well as encourage best practices in constituent communications and make it possible to grade members of Congress on their responsiveness & citizen satisfaction.