In all the debate that has raged over SOPA/PIPA, one group has been decidedly under-represented: the creators of the content that the two bills are designed to protect. Those lobbying loudest in support of SOPA and PIPA have insisted that the bills are necessary to protect the entertainment industry from the ravages of online piracy. Such piracy, they claim protects copyright holders from the threat of having their livelihood destroyed by piracy. In that case, one might assume that the content creators – authors, actors, filmmakers, musicians, and the like – would be overjoyed by this legislation and would gladly lend their voices to its support.
The reality, it seems is different. In an open letter to Washington, several such people – the creators of the very content the MPAA and RIAA claim they are trying to protect – object strongly to SOPA/PIPA. They cite the benefits of an open internet for both themselves and society, as well as their fear that the legislation puts too much power in the hands of copyright holders. The believe that the impact of SOPA/PIPA on piracy will be negligible, while its effect on a free and open internet could be devastating. The full text of the letter, which may be found here, is below. Notable names on the list include author Neil Gaiman, Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame,
We, the undersigned, are musicians, actors, directors, authors, and producers. We make our livelihoods with the artistic works we create. We are also Internet users.
We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.
We, along with the rest of society, have benefited immensely from a free and open Internet. It allows us to connect with our fans and reach new audiences. Using social media services like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, we can communicate directly with millions of fans and interact with them in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
We fear that the broad new enforcement powers provided under SOPA and PIPA could be easily abused against legitimate services like those upon which we depend. These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services – artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result.
We are deeply concerned that PIPA and SOPA’s impact on piracy will be negligible compared to the potential damage that would be caused to legitimate Internet services. Online piracy is harmful and it needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of censoring creativity, stifling innovation or preventing the creation of new, lawful digital distribution methods.
We urge Congress to exercise extreme caution and ensure that the free and open Internet, upon which so many artists rely to promote and distribute their work, does not become collateral damage in the process.
Kevin Devine, Musician
Barry Eisler, Author
Neil Gaiman, Author
Lloyd Kaufman, Filmmaker
Zoë Keating, Musician
The Lonely Island
Daniel Lorca, Musician (Nada Surf)
Erin McKeown, Musician
Samantha Murphy, Musician
Amanda Palmer, Musician (The Dresden Dolls)
Adam Savage, Special Effects Artist (MythBusters)
Hank Shocklee, Music Producer (Public Enemy, The Bomb Squad)
Johnny Stimson, Musician