Issa, Lofgren Offer Alternative to Internet Regulation Bill – SOPA

December 8, 2011

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers is offering draft legislation as an alternative to a controversial bill to censor and regulate the Internet known as the Stopping Online Piracy Act in the House and PROTECT IP Act in the Senate. House members including Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., have released a new draft bill that would provide an expedited legal process at the International Trade Commission to designate offending foreign domains and to cut off their funding by blocking financial institutions and advertising networks from doing business with them.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, which opposes illegal infringement of copyright but also opposes Internet filtering and censorship at home and abroad, believes it is essential to fight the overly broad Internet censorship and regulatory regime, which SOPA and PIPA would create. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black.

“We appreciate the way this alternative legislation is being introduced in draft form, taking comments from all stakeholders. This pragmatic and open process is more likely to yield a solution that reduces online infringement without compromising the secure functioning of the Internet. It’s a shame this was not the process for the original online piracy legislation.

“Internet engineers and cybersecurity experts, have repeatedly warned about the dangers of SOPA to Internet architecture. Others, including human rights activists  around the world, venture capitalists, Internet pioneers, as well as prominent artists and entertainers have all raised serious concerns about the earlier legislation.  We are pleased there are members of Congress, who understand the value of the open Internet as a platform for innovation in our economy and are introducing legislation that would protect the Internet, while still responding to rightsholders’ request for more help from others to enforce copyright online.

“This bill makes sense economically, legally and technically. This ‘follow the money’ approach has worked in the past against websites that government has targeted. It would provide a new tool to curb copyright infringement without compromising cybersecurity and creating a privatized Internet censorship regime in the United States.”

“In this economy we can’t afford to add to one industry’s bottom line while deeply adding to the regulatory cost burden on other industries through sweeping, broad new Internet regulations. This is a false choice. We don’t have to choose between protecting rightsholders and protecting the Internet. This legislation from forward-thinking members like Issa and Lofgren show the two goals can be reconciled when drafted by those who have studied how the complex Internet ecosystem operates.

“At the end of the day, SOPA is an attempt to massively shift the burden of online copyright enforcement from entertainment and other industry attorneys to government and other industries. What makes sense about the Issa bill is that it provides a more efficient, expeditious and productive way to address the problem. The alternate bill would allow a specialized agency to designate an offending foreign rogue website as illegal once and for all — even if it springs up again hours later under a new domain. The SOPA approach is a less effective, more burdensome and costly whack-a-mole approach. It would create thousands of hours of enforcement issues for the DOJ, courts, entertainment and rightsholder attorneys as well as all the other industry attorneys from tech, telecom, and credit card companies who would have to respond to a flurry of legal notices every time a suspected rogue website pops up or changes domains.

“It’s disappointing that legislation as flawed as SOPA could be seriously considered, but letters from law professors, cyber engineers, venture capitalists, the tech industry, and messages from open Internet supporters all across the country have convinced many that a different approach is needed. This new bill shows there is a way for Congress to do what’s in the interest of the public and our economy – even on complex issues involving the functioning of the Internet and even when there is big money and powerful special interests pushing for a parochial outcome.”

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