70 Groups Send Open Letter To Congress Regarding SOPA/PIPABy: Zach Walton - February 7, 2012
SOPA and PIPA may have been shelved, but the groups involved with initial protest feel that the threat is far from over.
Seventy groups, most of them involved with the blackout protests from a few weeks back, have sent an open letter to Congress asking them to hold back on any further legislation that would attempt to hurt the Internet in the name of protecting intellectual property.
They encourage Congress to “take a breath, step back, and approach the issues from a fresh perspective.” They then ask Congress to take into account the concerns brought forth by technologists, law professors, international human rights groups, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and individual Internet users. They say the concerns “are too fundamental and too numerous to be fully addressed through hasty revisions to these bills.” They also take a stab at attempts to push through bills in secret by saying their concerns should not be “addressed by closed door negotiations among a small set of inside the beltway stakeholders.”
The letter touches upon Congress’ willingness to accept the statistics on piracy provided by trade groups even when they are clearly found to be wrong and biased.
Congress must determine the true extent of online infringement and, as importantly, the economic effects of that activity, from accurate and unbiased sources, and weigh them against the economic and social costs of new copyright legislation. Congress cannot simply accept industry estimates regarding economic and job implications of infringement given the Government Accountability Office’s clear finding in 2010 that previous statistics and
quantitative studies on the subject have been unreliable.
The groups take time to point out that current efforts are guided by a “narrow, single-industry perspective” that have taken down lawful blogs and Web sites. They say that Congress has focused on areas “where some rights holders believes existing law is too weak, without also considering the ways in which existing policies have undermined free speech and innovations.”
They end the letter with the demand that any further legislation brought forth to tackle these matters be brought forth to the public to allow sufficient debate from all interested parties.
The groups that signed the open letter should be familiar to those who followed the SOPA protests. Some big players Cheezburger Network, Mozilla, Reddit and WordPress are included. Wikipedia and Google are absent from the list, but they both have enough power to petition Congress individually so maybe they feel that they don’t need to sign the open letter to make a point.
You can read the whole letter below: