the candler blog

White House Responds to SOPA and PIPA

Filmmaking, Technology,

While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders. That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response. We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.

This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.

The clarity of this statement from the Obama administration is a huge step forward for those opposed to the House’s SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the Senate’s PIPA (PROTECT IP Act) bills. It reflects a real understanding of what’s at stake, the freedom of expression that the Internet enables, while recognizing the core issues that have lead to the need for this kind of legislation, piracy.

I love this one line, so I’ll re-quote it again. “We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.” That really should extend to consumers. The names of these bills are incredibly misleading, built to evoke sympathy and votes from those who don’t understand technology, but if in fact the underlying goal is to “stop online piracy,” then maybe we should each look around our own house and see what we can do before the government does it for us.

This language from the White House is encouraging, but I get a sinking feeling that there’s something we don’t know happening in the background. Yesterday, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), SOPA’s sponsor, agreed to remove DNS-blocking from the bill, which today’s statement asks for explicitly. I have trouble believing the timing of these two events is a coincidence. I don’t mean to get too tin-foil-hat on you, but my guess is that another shoe is going to drop soon, but it’d be better if we all had a nice weekend first.

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