Dec. 14, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today urged members of the House Judiciary Committee to reject HR 3261, warning the legislation would "take the mind of throwing the book at alleged offenders, shutting down their websites, cutting off their revenue streams, locking them up and asking questions later."
Wilson warned in his letter, "It is un-American to set up a situation where people are guilty until proven innocent."
The letter points to existing provisions of Copyright Law, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and Fair Use doctrine, wherein "Internet users can receive a cease-and-desist takedown notice prior to civil action being taken by an [intellectual property] holder."
Wilson called these protections "adequate" for intellectual property (IP) holders, and said the new law would undermine "safe harbor provisions that allow users to be notified of any instances of infringement to provide an opportunity to have them removed without penalty."
Wilson said the legislation "completely averts that process," warning the first notification a webmaster could receive would be the website being shut down, getting served with a massive fine, or "being arrested under criminal charges for having anything infringing up on the web for longer than 180 days, even if (s)he was unaware of any violation of IP."
"Such outcomes appear to be rather draconian, and will most certainly have a chilling effect on what is in effect cyber speech: on uploading, posting and sharing files. Existing laws protect copyright and protect innocent users of the Internet," Wilson explained.
The letter urged members to consider how the new law would affect millions of their constituents: "In the digital age, with the ease of sharing files, images, videos and music, nobody should be served with criminal or civil action for copyright infringement without first being notified of that infringement, and being provided an opportunity to correct it."
HR 3261 is scheduled for markup in the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 15.
Letter to Members of the House Judiciary Committee, ALG President Bill Wilson (Dec.14, 2011) at http://netrightdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/AntiSOPA-12-14-11.pdf.
"An Internet Without Uploading?" ALG President Bill Wilson (Dec. 14, 2011) at http://netrightdaily.com/2011/12/an-internet-without-uploading/.
"Internet piracy bill: A free speech 'kill switch'," ALG President Bill Wilson, The Hill (Dec. 12, 2011) at http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/technology/198687-internet-piracy-bill-a-free-speech-kill-switch.
Interview with ALG President Bill Wilson, WGEM, Hosts Rich Cain and Lindsey Hess, Quincy, IL (Dec. 12, 2011) at http://my.wgem.com/_Bill-Wilson-Americans-for-Limited-Govt/audio/916294/29404.html.
"Legislation by Rep. Lamar Smith equals Internet censorship," ALG Senior Editor Robert Romano (Dec. 12, 2011) at http://netrightdaily.com/2011/12/legislation-by-rep-lamar-smith-equals-internet-censorship/.
Three Libertarians Raise Concerns about the Stop Online Piracy Act, Cato Institute (Nov. 7, 2011) at http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/three-libertarians-raise-concerns-about-the-stop-online-piracy-act/.
"Guilty until proven innocent," By ALG Communications Director Rick Manning, Nov. 16, 2011 at http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-a-budget/193901-guilty-until-proven-innocent.
Interview Availability: Please contact Rebekah Rast at (703) 383-0880 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.