Senate Bill 968 (PIPA) and House Bill 3261 (SOPA)

The web is in an uproar over Senate Bill 968 (PIPA) and House Bill 3261 (SOPA), and why shouldn’t they? The language is stern and allows for wide-ranging punishments for infringing websites (see http://americancensorship.org/infographic.html for the slightly sensationalized infographic, or https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/sopa-pipa/ for a more wordy, but less sensational version). The problem is that we don’t know what WILL happen with bills like PIPA and SOPA, but we’ve seen what has happened with earlier bills like the DMCA and it makes myself and many others afraid of what bills of this sort will mean for the future of the Internet.

As such, I have written both Senator McCain and Senator Kyle, as well as Representative Giffords, who all represent me in Washington to express my concern over these bills. While the emails I sent to each were slightly different, what follows is my viewpoint that I sent to each of them:

I have been an Arizona resident my entire life. I was born in Tucson Medical Center over 30 years ago and am proud to call Arizona my home and to have you representing me in Washington D.C.

With recent changes to the government and policies however, I have become more and more discontent with what is happening. One of those areas is with Senate Bill 968 (PIPA) and House Bill 3261 (SOPA).

I make my living by building websites for many organizations and many of those websites allow third parties to post their own content in the form of comments or reviews. Sometimes that material can be of an obscene nature, or even encourage illegal acts and should be dealt with in appropriate manners.

However, the language of both Senate Bill 968 and House Bill 3261 make me concerned about the wide amount of power that might be given to groups that, quite frankly, I do not trust. The major proponents of both bills, the media producers and creators, have shown time and time again that they would rather err on the side of censorship rather than allow people to have the freedom of speech that is allowed by the constitution.

This has been shown time and time again via takedown notices to YouTube and other web sites under the DMCA (the Title 17 amendment made in 2008 under President Bill Clinton) that have later been shown to be “overbearing”. Even the esteemed Senator McCain had videos removed from his YouTube account during his 2008 presidential bid via DMCA takedown notices. His campaign at that time wrote a letter to the YouTube and Google General Councils that the takedowns were based on “overreaching copyright claims.” See http://regmedia.co.uk/2008/10/14/mccain_youtube_takdown_letter.pdf for a PDF of the letter Senator McCain’s campaign sent.

In light of this, I am strongly against giving these parties more power to take down more websites with even less notice. I understand that piracy and illegal actions need to be acted upon. But the measures described in both Senate Bill 968 and House Bill 3261 are far too broad and it’s been shown time and time again that the measures that were implemented in the amendment to Title 17, known as the DMCA, have been abused beyond their original intent.

Therefore, I strongly urge you to vote AGAINST Senate Bill 968, House Bill 3261 and others like it and instead, work with the many companies that are striving to have an open internet to create legislation that will meet the needs of the copyright holders and still allow freedom of speech.

Thank You,
Charles Lehardy

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