Although a new version of the tough new anti-piracy bill just modified in Congress address some of what the bill’s sponsor calls “legitimate concerns” about the legislation, at its heart it’s still got the same big problems. The bill is scheduled for a vote today — so call your Congressman now to ask them to vote against it, please.
The changes streamline and narrow other portions of the bill, especially those that allow copyright and trademark holders to file their own private lawsuits against suspected pirates. Now their target must, in some but not all cases, actually be “offering goods or services in violation” of U.S. intellectual property laws, a change from the previous wording that was more vague. This is a significant, and very positive change that will protect many average users like me.
SOPA v2.0 also takes more careful aim at Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and other search providers. Previously the definition included a service that “searches, crawls, categorizes, or indexes information,” which could have included thousands, or perhaps millions, of other Web sites with search boxes as well. Now, it just threatens the major search providers. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it’s definitely better to give Hollywood fewer targets.
But many of the problems still remain. For instance, if you store photos or videos on an online site that’s found to be in violation, your files can still be obliterated without warning. Whole domains could still vanish from the Internet, and there’s still the issue of what this would do to the technical underpinnings of the DNS system.
That’s still my biggest concern: despite changes, SOPA still mandates and encourage DNS blocking and filtering. For now, the blocking is “only” for suspected pirate sites — but once in place, the filters can just as easily block protest, political opposition and human rights sites.
Please tell Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and your own representative that you oppose SOPA! (Note: You’ll have to call 202-225-4236 to reach his office, as his website only accepts email from those who live in his district.) Here’s a link to the find your Congressional Representative page on Congress’s website — click on the map of your state to get the list with phone numbers and street addresses, but it’s too late to write a snail mail letter. Only phone calls might actually reach someone today!