Make Web, Not War: An Open Letter to Reps Royce and Sanchez

We try not to get too political at the Fullertonian, but when politicians take a crack at the very systems and principles on which this publication is founded it is hard (and pointless) to stay neutral. We don’t believe you have to be disconnected to be objective. 

The Stop Online Piracy Act sounds from its label like it will just stop software pirates. But judging a new law by it’s label can be like judging a book by it’s cover, which we hear is something to be avoided. It will render, by law, censorship authority to countless private service providers. It is just one attack against this new open messaging tool we call the internet. Following is our response to the first salvo in a series of battles we call the War Against the Web.

Dear Reps. Royce and Sanchez:

As you may know, Congress will be voting on the Stop Online Piracy Act early next year sponsored by your colleague Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). While we understand that internet piracy costs the United States economy millions of jobs and billions in revenue, this law does more harm than good, especially to local business owners and residents who use the Internet in perfectly legal ways.

If the language of the bill stands, it would give government entities the power to shut down website they see as infringing on copyrights and force them to shut down. The overview of the bill states that a “intellectual property right holder” could force a shutdown by “a written notification identifying the site to related payment network providers and Internet advertising services requiring such entities to forward the notification and suspend their services to such an identified site unless the site’s owner, operator, or domain name registrant, upon receiving the forwarded notification, provides a counter notification explaining that it is not dedicated to engaging in specified violations.” The vague language of the bill would put small businesses that use the Internet such as The Fullertonian at the cross-hairs of arbitrary unbridled and policing.

The internet is still a young technology, yet already private solutions are being developed to combat the constant threat of online piracy. SOPA is not an innovative solution to this new problem but a knee-jerk throw-back to a system of coercion where service providers become responsible for the content created by their clients.

There have always been people who seek government authority to silence the voices of their opponents. Although many battles have been fought over this issue we have not yet relegated it to the dust bin of history. We need YOU to prevent the institutionalization of prior restraint in a place where it has never existed before: The internet.

We urge you to not support this bill and let us find ways to tackle the problem of internet piracy and rogue sites without sacrificing freedom and innovation.

Signed,
The Fullertonian Editorial Staff

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