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SOME WEBSITES OBSERVING BLACKOUT ON JANUARY 18

by Sharon Rondeau

SOPA protest image promoted by Google on January 18, 2012

(Jan. 18, 2012) — The Stop Online Piracy Act SOPA) was introduced on October 26, 2011 and “would empower the Justice Department to seek injunctions against foreign websites that traffic in pirated goods or content.”  Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Smith of Texas, HR3261:

…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 proposal is intended to “promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property…”

The partner bill, PIPA, or the “Protect IP Act,” which originated in the Senate as S968, was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy and makes the following proposal:

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.

Sen. Marco Rubio had originally supported both proposals but has recently changed his position.  PIPA is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate on January 24.

Former Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is now reportedly working as a lobbyist in the motion picture industry and favors the bill.

According to The Huffington Post, over 7,000 websites, including 11 major sites, have blacked out their logos today in protest of SOPA and PIPA.  Google opposes the proposals, calling SOPA “draconian,” but the Hollywood community supports it, as do the Wall Street Journal and other industries.  Along with Google and Many schools, colleges and non-profits oppose the bill (scroll down).

The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp, whose owner is Rupert Murdoch.

Lamar Smith, the sponsor of SOPA, has been called “Hollywood’s Favorite Republican” because of his position as chair of the committee which writes copyright legislation.  On January 14, it was reported that Smith “would remove” a “key provision” from SOPA, the ability to block domain names from alleged foreign infringers.

The English version of Wikipedia is shut down, with information about the two proposals still available and a search box to find and contact one’s congressional representative.

It is feared that the passage of reconciled House and Senate bills would allow the government to block “foreign copyright infringers” from distributing the intellectual property of others.  It has been reported that the government has already shut down sports websites accused of illegal streaming of the Super Bowl last February.  Google and other major companies met with members of the House Judiciary Committee to express their concerns that such a bill would “fundamentally reshape the laws governing the Internet.”

Obama, with the backing of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, had campaigned on a platform of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  Google had assisted in paying for the inauguration of an arguably ineligible de facto president.  Obama has stated that he “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

But would a Senate/House compromise bill meet that definition for Obama?  Is he eligible to sign any bill?

The U.S. government already operates a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in response to ” response to global intellectual property theft” which is part of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  On February 18, 2011, it was reported that 84,000 website were shut down in error by the U.S. Department of Justice, which allegedly did so believing that the sites were connected with illegal activity.

“Protect IP” has been described as censorship and reportedly “will not stop downloaders.”  A prominent message reads, “Congress needs to hear from you, or this bill passes.”  Another website has issued a “Stop SOPA Standard” to protest the proposal.

Rather than “go dark” today, The Post & Email thought it more important to research the two proposals and present the facts to its readership.  We oppose SOPA and PIPA as proposed.

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  1. Why is the government taking action to protect copyright and trademark stuff…its civil…if the owners want to enforce thier rights…give them faster access to courts…but stop wasting tax dollars on this stuff because we have a 15Tn dollar hole…and stupidity like this is why it exists.

    The Government has no right to enforce copyright for anybody.

    “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;”

    The only enumerated power they have is to secure the rights, its the individuals obligation to enforce thier rights, not the Taxpayers.