At yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC) declared, “The obstinate opposition since the day [SOPA was introduced] is really about the bottom line. Sites that specialize in stolen goods attract lots of users and lots of ads.”
To those of us following this issue, the Congressman’s statement rings hollow. Rep. Watt failed to take into account the breadth of the organizations and individuals that have opposed SOPA and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), a similar Senate bill, on principled grounds. Philosophically-diverse public interest organizations and think tanks—from ACLU to the Competitive Enterprise Institute to Brookings—as well as human rights advocates, academics and security and free expression experts have come out against SOPA and PIPA, not because they are dismissive of the problem of piracy or have a financial interest at stake, but because they are rightfully concerned that the bills are overly broad and could inflict serious damage to the Internet.
CDT has compiled two resource pages to keep a running tally of mounting opposition to SOPA and PIPA. The first page features letters to Congress, articles, Op-Eds, blog posts, and analyses against the bills. The second lists the organizations, academics, and experts who have publicly opposed or expressed concern with SOPA and PIPA. Both are being updated on a daily basis.
Then there are the grassroots. Yesterday saw an explosion of public opposition to SOPA, including on Twitter. Several petitions and sites launched for people to express opposition to the bill, such as AmericanCensorship.org, which reported that over 1,000,000 emails were sent to Congress, while Tumblr reported that it generated over 87,000 phone calls. Other sites include:
- Avaaz – petition to Congress opposing SOPA and PIPA
- Daily Kos – message to Senators opposing PIPA
- Demand Progress – letter to Congress opposing SOPA and PIPA
- EFF – message to Congress opposing SOPA and PIPA
- Free Press – petition to Congress opposing SOPA
- Mozilla – organized call-in day to Congress opposing SOPA and PIPA on Tuesday, Nov. 29th
- Open Congress – letter to Congress opposing SOPA
- POPVOX – message to Congress opposing SOPA
- Protect Innovation – letter to Congress opposing SOPA and PIPA
- SendWrite – letter to Congress opposing SOPA
- Whitehouse.gov – petition to White House opposing SOPA
With hundreds of organizations, academics, and experts opposing SOPA and PIPA, and hundreds of thousands of others signing petitions, sending letters to and calling Congress, it is clear that opposition is about much more than the bottom line—it is about preserving an Internet that is open, innovative and free.
UPDATE: Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a leader in objecting to the proposed legislation, has stated that PIPA may pass if Americans don’t call Congress. To that end, a call-in day is being organized by AmericanCensorship.org, Mozilla, and others, on Tuesday, November 29th to oppose the legislation.
Senator Wyden has also said that if PIPA were to reach the Senate floor, he would filibuster it. Demand Progress has set up a site, StopCensorship.org, where you can email your Senators to oppose PIPA and sign up to have Senator Wyden read out your name during his filibuster.