Online News Association Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA

from the wow dept

As Lamar Smith continues to live in his fantasy world that there's no real opposition to SOPA, more and more groups keep coming out against it. The latest is a big one -- and a big surprise. The Online News Association has officially come out against both SOPA and PIPA. The letter is thorough, detailed and comprehensive about why the bills are problematic, focusing mainly on SOPA. And it's unequivocal in its condemnation of the bill:
[W]e believe SOPA would do little to stem those problems and would actually cause harm to the Internet and to the American public.

Indeed, the act -- and its counterpart in the Senate, the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) -- would inappropriately shut down websites, disrupt the free flow of legitimate information and limit Americans from fully exercising their First Amendment rights.
The letter then highlights multiple problems specifically in the bill (contrary to Smith's claim that no one has identified the specific problems of the bill). ONA notes that under SOPA, overblocking will be quite common:
Forcing payment services and ad networks to mete out punishment raises a host of concerns. For starters, SOPA stipulates that any payment service or ad network that fails to comply with a notice served by the copyright owner and based on the court order can be sued for damages and held liable. On the other hand, any service that cuts ties with a suspected site after receiving notice of a court order, may not be sued for damages by that site “for any acts reasonably designed to comply” with the order.

It’s not hard to imagine, then, that a service provider, acting with abundance of caution and out of its own self-interest, will simply cut off services to entire sites that have been accused of infringement, even if the court order only applies to portion of the site. Such actions could even extend to other sites owned by the same entity.
The group also raises concerns about the anti-circumvention provisions (which aren't limited to foreign players) and how that could cause all sorts of problems for those who provide legitimate tools. Following that, they raise key concerns about the impact on social media sites -- which the letter notes is "one of the most profound cultural developments on the web."

This is pretty big. Journalists, as a group, rarely stake out political positions or take official positions on anything political at all. To have them, as a group, come out against SOPA/PIPA shows just what a disaster these bills are. How much longer will the bills' supporters pretend that there isn't widespread opposition? How much longer can Lamar Smith, Bob Goodlatte, Howard Berman and John Conyers ignore the detailed concerns of the American public?

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 6 Jan 2012 @ 9:50pm

    Re: One of the huge problems with big news media supporting SOPA - PIPA

    I think this is what the online news association realized.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.