The proposed “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011”, or “PROTECT IP Act” (further shortened to “PIPA”), is about to be brought before the Senate for a vote. This bill, if passed, would grant the federal government greater powers to “combat online piracy”.
Among these powers, it would allow the Department of Justice to obtain a court order to block access to websites based on a mere accusation of copyright infringement. I don’t need to tell users of the internet how often ‘minor’ infringement of copyright (misuse of a photograph, for instance) occur on the ‘net. Mistakes with no ill intent happen all the time.
Congress attempted this last year with the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (“COICA”), and thankfully failed to pass it.
Stated another way: Congress, through this bill as well as the House’s “Stop Online Privacy Act” (“SOPA”), want to give the same government which is hounding Gibson Guitar over an accusation of ill-gotten wood the authority to hound websites over misused photographs or video clips.
We on the right must especially resist this legislation. President Obama has already declared war on FOX News. He clearly intends to stifle critics in whatever way he can. Much of the success of the Tea Party movement has been attributable to online “new media” offering a counterpunch to established Pro-Obama media. Giving Obama and Eric Holder the ability to make a simple accusation of copyright infringement, get a court order, and shut down conservative new media sites (and potentially bankrupt the owners with legal bills) is unacceptable, especially in an election year!
Thankfully, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is leading a filibuster attempt over this bill. Any of us on the right, who mistrust government’s motives, need to call and write our Senators and urge them to assist him.