The House Judiciary Committee today held a
hearing on HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
The following is attributed to Gigi B.
Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge:
“This hearing was a great disappointment
to those of us who work to achieve a balanced copyright policy. The comments of the vast majority members of
the Judiciary Committee clearly reflected the views of only one industry – the
big media companies which are pushing this bill, yet another piece of
legislation to impose Draconian measures on the technology sector – the fastest-growing
and most productive part of our economy.
“By focusing solely on those concerns, the
Committee overlooked real and substantive objections from interests ranging
across the spectrum from human-rights groups to entrepreneurs to Internet
engineers to civil libertarians. No one
from these communities was invited to testify today.
“As a result, members of the committee did
not have the benefit of the wisdom of those groups. They overlooked or brushed aside issues
embodied in the small print of the bill which invest enormous power in big
media and telecommunications companies.
“It was particularly egregious that none
of the distinguished Internet engineers who warned of the dangers contained in
the bill about the destabilization of the Internet were a part of the panel of
witnesses. The cybersecurity concerns
should not be dismissed lightly. We
commend Rep. Zoe Lofgren for pointing out those shortcomings.
“Perhaps most disappointing was the
testimony of Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante. She reversed many of the positions on the
issue that she took in March when she testified before the House Intellectual
Property Subcommittee. The SOPA
legislation is in no way ‘measured,’ as she said today.
“In March, she raised concerns about that
legislation should not “unnecessarily jeopardize the efficient
operation of the Internet” while endorsing
a ‘follow-the-money’ approach to shutting down rogue sites. Today, she supported
SOPA without qualification and failed to address the harms to cybersecurity and
the Domain Name System she feared not a few months ago, while minimizing the
value of the ‘follow-the-money’ approach.
“We hope the Committee will take the time to
hear the objections of other communities of interest to remedy the serious
situations this bill would create before moving it to the House floor.”