Controversial SOPA bill gets more heat from internet giants YouTube, Google and Wikipedia

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order

say no to SOPA billToday is the day that the United States Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is scheduled to be voted on.

Lamar Smith, a Texas republican, drafted the bill to address the film and music industry's growing concerns around online piracy. SOPA would effectively allow both the US government and copyright holders to seek court orders against websites that display or are associated with intellectual property infringement and piracy.

And unsurprisingly, the who's who of Silicon Valley, amongst many, many others, are not happy.

For instance, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has threatened a blackout, telling The Telegraph that public uprising is needed to halt the progress of the bill.

Internet giants such as Google, Twitter, YouTube, Yahoo, The Huffington Post, LinkedIn and Flickr have all banded together to voice their dislike of the bill in a to-the-point open letter.

And it is no surprise that these companies are up in arms. The bill threatens to change the core of the internet and the services we have all come to rely on. Most of the websites listed rely heavily on user moderation to help control uploaded content.

Under SOPA, a user posting any copyrighted content on YouTube, for instance, puts the video giant at risk of being shut down and taken to court.

Worse, if Joe Public links to copyrighted content hosted on sites like YouTube, Wikipedia, or Google, he could also have his website shut down and be dragged into court.

An open letter, reposted below from CNET, argues that if the SOPA bill is passed it will stifle innovation by requiring web services to monitor user uploaded links, and give the US government web censorship rights similar, they say, to those used in China, Malaysia and Iran.

An Open Letter to Washington
We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online.

However we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act - which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online - will undermine that framework.
These two pieces of legislation threaten to:

  • Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;
  • Deny website owners the right to due process of law;
  • Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran;
  • Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of the Internet.

We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities that we all had.

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square
Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch
David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo!
Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post
Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and co-founder of Alexa Internet
Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal
Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist
Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay
Biz Stone, co-founder of Obvious and Twitter
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation
Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger and Twitter
Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!

There are also very real concerns on the security ramifications of an internet in a SOPA-world, touched upon in an excellent post by Naked Security's Chester Wisniewski.

As far as I am concerned, what annoys me about all this is not the question of going after copyright infringers. It is more that those who have something to gain by stopping the infringement are putting third-parties in the firing line. The resources needed to adhere to this bill will be nothing short of crippling for many online businesses. It's unfair and sets an unsavoury precedent for the internet in the free world. Yuck.

Naked Security contributor Lachlan Urquhart said the following when we were discussing the topic:

"This Bill has chilling implications for free speech, through censorship with DNS blocking, DPI and banning of legal services like encryption and VPN tools! It also requires ad agencies and payment systems that finance the running of the infringing (foreign) site to halt their services on request. This effectively chokes the website owner into complying with the order, despite the hosted content potentially being legal. Although these blacklist decisions can be appealed in court, it seems the process could become reminiscent of the UDRP for trademarks and domain names...where the IP right holder always wins."

If you don’t want this bill to be passed, then now is the time to make some noise.

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15 Responses to Controversial SOPA bill gets more heat from internet giants YouTube, Google and Wikipedia

  1. Whoops. what an amusing typo. Fixed. :)

  2. daxsmmartin · 854 days ago

    like users, what can we do to help to stop this?. I'm not even an United State citizen but I Know what are the implication for the entire web.
    the only thing that I made is share post like this one.

  3. Loren · 853 days ago

    To go to a page with a link to send your representative how you feel, go here: http://americancensorship.org

  4. Xeo · 853 days ago

    "Technology is the key that will unlock a brighter future for us all. As a Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, I am committed to ensuring that innovation continues to expand and enrich our lives without harming our privacy or security. " From http://lamarsmith.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID...

  5. Get a load of Scott Cleland's "SOPA Fixes Isolate Opponents, especially Google", posted at Forbes yesterday. http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottcleland/2011/12/...

  6. For some reason when I first read the article summary, I thought it read "Today is the day that the US's Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) is scheduled to be voted on."

    Got my attention, anyway :)

    There was an interesting commentary on this on Slashdot yesterday, where the private interests driving the bills were discovered to currently be in contravention, should the bills be law today. These can definitely have unintended consequences for everyone on the Internet. Food for thought.

  7. Beezer · 853 days ago

    Ah yes, protection of BIG business...wouldn't want to stop $s from going into their coffers.

  8. Your right when you say "The term, “Great Firewall of America” is especially appropriate given what the legislation is really about – censoring the internet. If someone wants to take down their competition, all they have to do is secretively go to a government body and complain that the website is infringing on copyright. That can set the wheels in motion to have the website simply vanish off the internet – all over a single, unproven claim of infringement.

  9. Sreekar · 853 days ago

    It is a bod piece of legislation which will do no good.The really determined pirates will simply bypass the blacklisted DNSes and ordinary users will be left with an insecure internet.

  10. barleysinger · 852 days ago

    This is obviously aimed at censorship, shoved in sideways into a bill. under the guise of copyright infringement .

    They US Congress, who OUGHT to love free speech has tried again and again to shut down the worlds largest forum for free speech...which tell us what they REALLY are like.

    After Wikileaks posted footage of US soldiers killing OBVIOUS reporters and Iraqi politicians (none armed or shooting back) ... shooting down from helicopters as if they were playing a video game...and then in reply, the most respected people in the press went on to state FIRMLY that Wikileaks were far more cautious in their released information than most respected reporters....well...that was a serious slap in the face. Can't have people telling the truth!!! Shut it on down folks.

    If this law had been in place, one phone call would have taken WIKILEAKS away from being reachable with no trial, and hundreds of millions would have not seen that footage. It would have never made it onto the mainstream news.

    If this law had been in place when NATO attacked Yugoslavia, there would have been no footage of the destruction of the civilian infrastructure (hospitals, roads, airports, power, news broadcasting).....while millitary installations were left alone. The world would not know.

    If this law had been in place, anything you know today that got through to people via the web....would have disappeared...and most WEB companies would have moved AWAY from the USA.

  11. Saurik · 820 days ago

    If you really are that immature about shutting down websites like google and facebook to protest "SOPA", then i guess this post, and all of the ones before and after it, are pointless.

  12. Saurik · 820 days ago

    Not going to approve my comment? cant handle the truth, Ms. Theriault? or whichever website admin is reading this.

  13. Err.. you only waited two minutes to complain that your comment hadn't been approved?

    Time to take a chill pill old bean. Carole is in a meeting right now, but I thought you probably didn't want to wait any longer before your comment is approved. :)

  14. John Galt · 121 days ago

    What, if any of this, is a surprise?

    Power is the opposite of freedom.

    Those in power want the golden eggs but want to tie the goose down by the neck and take the eggs,

    not knowing that the goose must be free

    It is only the slow reaction time of the hidden powers that has keep the Internet as free as it has been for as long as it has been.

    Dump ashes on you head, and grieve, the end is nigh.

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About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .