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?

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2012 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Re:

    Sorry to say this, but if this passes you won't see any such thing happen. It won't hit the big sites like, facebook and google, in a way noticable to the average user it'll just cost them lots of money. It's the new and little sites, the ones that would make jobs and spur innovation that'll be destroyed by this, and people just don't miss what they don't ever see. Sure, it'll help push out economy further down the tank, probably into an inevitable depression or even into chaos, but most minds won't make the connection between these bad laws and that chaos.

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