Surprise: Heritage Foundation, Who Almost Always Supports MPAA, Comes Out Against SOPA

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

Increasingly, it looks like the MPAA and the US Chamber of Commerce can't even count on their closest "friends" to support SOPA. The latest surprise is that the Heritage Foundation has come out against SOPA, warning that it would likely have dangerous unintended consequences. They note both the security concerns as well as the First Amendment concerns:
The requirement that search engines omit links to rogue sites undercuts the role of search firms as trusted intermediaries in conveying information to users. There are, of course, other circumstances where search engines already omit information and links—for instance, Google routinely screens out child pornography from its search results. But there has never been a government mandate that information be withheld from search results. Imposing such a mandate would represent the first step down a classic slippery slope of government interference that has no clear stopping point.

Arguably, the limits placed on search engines as well as other third parties under SOPA would also violate constitutional protections of freedom of speech. But even if not barred legally, any such restrictions should be imposed only after the most careful consideration, only when absolutely necessary, and even then, to the smallest degree possible.
What's really shocking about this is that the Heritage Foundation has a long, long history of being strongly in favor of more draconian copyright law, and a big supporter of efforts by the RIAA and MPAA to go legal at the drop of a hat over copyright issues:
Unlike some Washington advocacy groups that are predictably anti-copyright, Heritage has historically taken the opposite position. It called the Motion Picture Association of America's decision to sue peer-to-peer pirates a "wise choice," and suggested that disrupting P2P networks to curb piracy, an idea that some politicians actually proposed, is a step "in the right direction."

[....]

Ed Meese, Reagan's attorney general who's now a Heritage fellow, seemed to be channelling an MPAA lobbyist when writing in 2005 that "there is no difference between shoplifting a DVD from a store and illegally downloading a copyrighted movie from Kazaa." Heritage's warnings of international "threats to intellectual property rights" date back to at least 1987. And it scores protection of intellectual property rights in its annual Index of Economic Freedom.
To now have the group go the other way is a huge surprise -- and furthers the rapidly growing momentum against SOPA. It had appeared that much (though certainly not all) of the momentum had been on "the left." But, with recent concerns from DC groups that "the right" tends to follow and respect (including CATO, CEI and now Heritage), it seems like plenty of politicians on both sides of the aisle may be increasingly skeptical of SOPA. It may have the votes to get out of the House Judiciary Committee, but it may be difficult for it to survive a floor vote.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Without Due Process

    Arguably, the limits placed on search engines as well as other third parties under SOPA would also violate constitutional protections of freedom of speech. But even if not barred legally, any such restrictions should be imposed only after the most careful consideration, only when absolutely necessary, and even then, to the smallest degree possible.

    Essentially, they believe that there should be some due process instead of guilty until proven innocent. Good for them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    anonymous, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:03am

    good to see more opposition to SOPA. just a shame that there are still more that haven't realised the damage the bill will do, not only to the USA in general but to their respective businesses in particular. also a shame that it has taken almost to the 11th hour for these to speak out!

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:08am

    Re: Without Due Process

    "Essentially, they believe that there should be some due process instead of guilty until proven innocent. Good for them!"

    This is where I hope everyone can take a deep breath and realize that it's possible for both sides to disagree on many of the general or finer points of these debates, and yet still have a nuanced cogent thought in their heads. Kudos to Heritage for not just lining up with SOPA supporters and being honest about their position. It IS possible to be against piracy in general and think that SOPA is a piece of trash....

     

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  4.  
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    The Original Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:10am

    "Right" is just now seeing that SOPA is bad?

    We libertarians are quite often considered to be right-wingers, but we've been against this sort of thing long before it was cool for the lefties (and "real" conservatives) to oppose it.

    This is just one of the many crony capitalism projects that needs to die a quick death, a death that is hopefully as painful as possible for it's supporters so that they don't try it again for a long time.

     

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  5.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Re: Without Due Process

    [trolling]
    "Due Process"?! What do you want next, a horst & buggy? 40 acres and a mule?

    Due Process is just one of those antiquated notions Americans cling to; even though everybody knows it died at the turn of the century!

    Get with the times, breathe in the fascism. You can even pick your side, be an oppressor or the oppressed.
    [/trolling]

    (Can't help it, damn xmas music is driving my crazy.)

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:15am

    It's a trap! I don't trust Heritage Foundation one bit. They also strongly support the Patriot Act, and want it to be even more draconian.

    They're just trying to save their own asses here.

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Without Due Process

    "(Can't help it, damn xmas music is driving my crazy.)"

    Christmas music can actually be good, or at least really, REALLY funny.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiC1P8OT_Uc

    You're welcome :)

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 8:56am

    The Heritage Foundation's stance is hardly surprising to anyone who follows them. They are as pro business as they are limited government. I tire of folks on these comments that cannot deal with the fact that the larger and more power you give to government the more freedoms will be taken- Healthcare, internet, commerce- it ALWAYS ends badly and they take the exact same tact in every single situation whether it be Ancient Rome, Pre-WW1&2 Germany, or the USA. It has been this way for thousands of years- people run to government and trade their freedom for safety and when government gets enough power it only looks after itself teaming up with big business and the most powerful families to stomp the common man in a power grab. Blame the rich or blame government they are all the same folks. Every time someone says they are doing something for your own good- take a look at who is profiting first, it is usually the messenger. In this case powerful lobbyists for the media giving campaign donations to both parties. You bunch of idealist, brainwashed, big govt voting punks deserve the mess you are now realizing...but you seek to blame someone else.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:09am

    They are probably just pissed off that it won't let them block porn too.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    Wow, too much coffee this morning?

     

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  11.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: "Right" is just now seeing that SOPA is bad?

    I wouldn't count on SOPA/PIPA supporters trying again no matter how painfully this idiocy comes to an end. The RIAA and MPAA have been at this for over a century now and, over time, have chipped away at things so that copyright has gone from 14 years to, well, anywhere from say 60 years (say someone wrote a book at age 20, and died at 80 and assuming the copyright remains in effect for 70 years after the author's death) to 150 years FAR, FAR beyond anything ever dreamed of or of use to society or the culture at large.

    It's worse than crony capitalism, it's corporatism verging on mercantilism. Each worse than the last.

    But it does speak the truth about Lord Acton's observation that power corrupts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dalberg-Acton,_1st_Baron_Acton#Notable_quotes_by_Lord_A cton
    More than a few of his observations apply to this mess.

     

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  12.  
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    btrussell (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Without Due Process

    I'll take the buggy with the hurst, 40 acres and an oval.

     

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  13.  
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    abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Without Due Process

    "SOPA is a piece of trash"

    It's worse than that. It is a big step toward government endorsed censorship. I do not think SOPA/PIPA is a simple mistake, those who think they can dictate your thoughts and actions are never going to stop.

     

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  14.  
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    abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Without Due Process

    I read that to the tune of "Safety Dance".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    gorehound (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re: "Right" is just now seeing that SOPA is bad?

    Yes this is an issue that will get both the right and the left to Vote together in support.SOPA/PIPA goes against our Country's Freedom and our Constitution.
    I am not a Conservative and I am not a Liberal though I do tend to think towards liberal.
    I have been against this type of thing forever and I am 55 so I have been aware of loss of freedom for decades.

     

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  16.  
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    abc gum, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    "You bunch of idealist, brainwashed, big govt voting punks deserve the mess you are now realizing...but you seek to blame someone else."

    You are really on to something there. Let's blame everything upon the voters who "put them in office" as there were a plethora of choices to be made, each with its own guaranteed outcome. And as we all know, politicians never tell the voters one thing and then do the opposite.

    In addition, those who take an oath prior to serving their terms never break that oath and always take the high road never succumbing to temptation of power, money, sex, drugs, etc. as they are of the highest caliber this country has to offer.

    /s

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:14am

    I eagerly await TAM's arrival so he can call the Heritage Foundation a bunch of tech dweebs and hand-wave their opposition away.

     

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  18.  
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    Atkray (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re:

    I am getting increasingly worried that the opposition to SOPA/PIPA will end up causing more harm than good.

    I sense that they really felt they could push these through mostly unnoticed because it was just before the Christmas break. Having failed I can see future editions of these bills appearing the week before the break instead of the month before.

    They are learning that the longer these types of bills are exposed to the light the louder the opposition gets, I don't expect them to make that mistake again.

     

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  19.  
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    chaya, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Without Due Process

    I agree completely with Dark Helmet that you can be against piracy and still think SOPA wrong. In fact, I would say that the two are congruent completely. Protecting the rights of others includes protecting property (intellectual rights), AND the right to free speech, AND the right to the free exchange of ideas in the marketplace.

     

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  20.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Without Due Process

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 1:04pm

    I do not believe it is proper to use an opinion piece presented as a webmemo by one person on the organization's staff as proof that the organization as a whole is opposed to the legislation. I think you are taking poetic liberties here.

     

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  22.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    In organizations such as this one, generally speaking web memo's of this nature DO reflect the organization's view or the employee wouldn't have sent it. If it wasn't you can bet your bottom dollar there would have been a retraction as soon as it got out in the wild and the questions started coming into them about "sniffle, snuffle, cry, OH PLEASE SUPPORT SOPA, we were counting on YOU!, sniffle snuffle, cry" and so on.

    As that doesn't seem to have happened I'd make the reasonable assumption that the memo fairly reflects their stance. And as it's on their web site I'd more than say it does. Nice try though.

    The tissues are directly in front of you.

     

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  23.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 24th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re:

    I fear you may have a point, but what's the alternative? Roll over and let things like this happen despite clear and devastating unintended consequences, lest they get better at sidestepping objections in the future? I don't think so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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