Monday, January 30, 2012

A follow-up with Congressman Moran on SOPA

Here is a followup email that I sent this morning to my representative, James P. Moran (D), 8th District, Virginia."

"I had written to you briefly about SOPA on Nov. 14, but I wanted to reiterate the need to proceed with great care, as bills like SOPA, PIPA and supports for the ACTA agreement inevitably come up again.  I do see on Twitter that you opposed the original SOPA bill and said that it needed substantial revisions.

"The biggest concern is the way downstream liability could be imposed (at more than one point in legal process) on ISP’s, publishing services like YouTube or Blogger, or even on individual sites (like my doaskdotell) based on how the law is ultimately interpreted in court.  A business world that is open to user-generated content is not consistent with the imposition of downstream liability in any area, so proposals that could weaken DMCA Safe Harbor or Section 230 (the latter with respect to libel) should be examined with great care at best.  Basic philosophical questions about the “privilege of being listened to” by a global audience come up.   At the same time, most piracy seems to occur from operations set up specifically to upload and then encourage downloading of directly pirated materials, not from user-generated content which is put at risk of “friendly fire” in a SOPA environment.

"It strikes me that the government already (as with Customs operations under ICE) already has considerable authority to (with proper due process) shut down website set up for piracy, and ought to be able (through diplomacy and Interpol) to work with other countries (especially Australia, the Netherlands, and especially Iceland) known to house many of the “rogue” operations, without increasing downstream liability exposure to service providers and ordinary small web businesses. 

"I would love to hear from you on this matter."

Another note:  Albert Noll on Fierce Telecomm  has a brief piece comparing search engines to pawn shops and saying that some downstream liability is necessary, here.  

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