Bolstered by comments from the White House this weekend condemning certain aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate, websites such as Mozilla, Wikipedia, MoveOn, Reddit, WordPress, and 5,000 others will be “going black” for 12 hours Wednesday.
“Even if they know these bills are controversial, most members of Congress still don’t understand why,“ Holmes Wilson of Fight for the Future said Tuesday in a press release. “MPAA has much more control over the information and opinions they read.”
Former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who now heads the Motion Picture Association of America and is the main proponent of the legislation isn’t pleased with the technology community’s decision to go forward with the blackout.
“A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals,” Dodd said in a statement on the MPAA website. “It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
In Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman are co-sponsors of the PROTECT-IP ACT, but the House delegation is split over the Stop Online Piracy Act. However, at least one of them made it known he won’t be supporting the legislation.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney sent out a statement Tuesday afternoon calling for the legislation to be scrapped.
“Online piracy is a serious problem that must be addressed, but doing so should not muzzle free speech, stifle innovation or harm cybersecurity. SOPA as it exists today fails that standard, and it should be scrapped entirely,” Courtney said. “An axe instead of a scalpel, this bill would unacceptably and fundamentally change the architecture of the internet.”
Courtney urged content creators and internet platform providers to get together and work on voluntary measures to reduce online piracy.
Courtney said he’s heard from thousands of his constituents on the issue who expressed concerns about the legislation.
“Ensuring that their voices are heard from square one will ensure that a viable approach to addressing online piracy emerges in the end,” Courtney added.
The technology community’s opposition to the legislation seems to be growing and they are not convinced lawmakers will make the necessary changes.
Websites participating in the online blackout on Jan. 18 are not deterred by recent reports from Senate and House leadership that the bills will be changed to reflect constituent concerns, said the press release from Fight for the Future. They are concerned that claims that the bills will be amended are merely distractions: The Senate still intends to press forward with a vote next week, and has not made any of the supposed changes public.
“SOPA supporters are still going to try to win this: They’ll tweak the existing bills to show that they are being responsive to criticism, but will leave in language that will capture domestic websites—breaking the architecture of the Internet while stifling free speech. Or worse, they could try to delay votes on the bills until people aren’t paying attention anymore. The momentum is on our side, and too strong to turn back” Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, said.