Today, the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), also called the Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act (E-PARASITE Act). SOPA builds on a companion bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The following statement can be attributed to Larry Downes , Senior Adjunct Fellow at TechFreedom:
Last summer, House leaders assured Silicon Valley they would correct serious defects in Protect IP—defects that could cause long-term unintended damage to Internet innovation. Instead, SOPA replaces unworkable technology mandates with vague standards and open-ended requirements. The House bill, in an effort to future-proof the legislation, has actually made it much worse.
SOPA would give the Department of Justice and media companies unwarranted and unprecedented new powers to shape the structure and content of the Internet. How far the new law actually goes will be left to prosecutors, lawyers and federal district judges.
The bill makes three grave errors: First, SOPA fails to identify the specific problems for which existing laws are inadequate. Second, it favors broad remedies over narrowly-tailored solutions. Third, it commissions the a proper cost-benefit analysis but only after the bill becomes law—too late to ensure that SOPA strikes the right balance.
Just as many Congressmen were rightly skeptical of the FCC’s “net neutrality” regulations, Members should be equally cautious with their own efforts to micromanage the Internet ecosystem, one of the economy’s few bright spots.
Downes is available for further comment at firstname.lastname@example.org . His prior work on this issue includes:
- “ Debating Congressional Anti-Piracy Legislation: What Do PROTECT IP and SOPA Mean For The Internet? ” (Congressional Internet Caucus briefing)
- “ Hollywood’s latest effort to turn back time ” (CNET)
- “ Five Essential Changes to Protect IP ” (CNET)
- “ Why Internet Content Wars will Never End ” (Forbes)