I just used the option provided today on the web site DailyKos to send email to my Indiana Senators, Lugar and Coats, protesting the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act (PIPA) bill in the Senate. The similar bill in the House is known as the Stop Online Pirace Act (SOPA) bill.
Following is the link. If you care about the freedom and stability of the Internet, you might want to consider contacting your Senators.
Here is what I wrote as a preface to the text provided by DailyKos, which I leave quoted in the following.
From: Ronald D. Edge, 813 W Rosewood Dr, Bloomingon, IN 47404-1849. And I and my wife always vote.
I just retired after a thirty year career in information technology. I was there and taking part in the creation and expansion and explosion of importance of the Internet.
The proposed bills claiming to fight online privacy are among the absolute worst legislation I have EVER seen Congress contemplate passing.
They are rooted in an almost total ignorance of exactly how the Internet works, especially the DNS name resolution servers.
Congress has absolutely no business legislating technological issues like this.
In addition, both House and Senate versions destroy any notion of the law. They bypass the judiciary, they destroy due process, the put both the accusation and the action in the hands of private corporations, bypassing warrants and due process completely.
This is just another nail in the coffin of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law in this nation.
Not that that has stopped you for the past 12 years, you have pretty much made those things meaningless.
This would be a good time to stop.
Aside from that, the movie industry has been putting forward patently false and exaggerated figures as to how much is lost in pirated copyright protected works.
The proper place for fighting crime is through legal actions by the proper federal law authorities and federal agencies charged with international trade and copyright and intellectual property rights.
There is more than enough law on the books to deal with this.
How about you pass some legislation to fund the computer techs the agencies need to go after this properly.
Through the courts. Through the law.
Following is prepared commentary from DailyKos.com.
Please oppose S.968, the Protect IP Act. This bill could destroy the Internet as we know it.
If S.968 passes, then all website owners would be forced to enact massive new private security measures, which means no one would bother creating new Internet companies anymore because of the cost and risk involved.
That’s why blogs on both the left and the right, like Daily Kos and Red State, have joined in opposition to S.968. That’s why tech giants like Facebook, Google, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo, AOL and Mozilla are opposed, and why Microsoft has withdrawn its support. It’s why more than 100 of the nation’s leading Intellectual Property law professors are opposed. It’s why the Consumer Electronics Association, which comprises over 2,000 American technology companies is opposed to the legislation as currently written.
Protect IP, as currently written, is dangerous to our way of life. Please oppose this legislation.
Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute did a study of the entertainment industry’s claims of the magnitude of the costs, and found their claims to be not exactly truthful. Here are the first couple of paragraphs of an article he wrote on the issue from the Cato Institute web site.
I’ve yet to encounter a technically clueful person who believes the Stop Online Piracy Act will actually do anything to meaningfully reduce—let alone “stop”—online piracy, and so I haven’t bothered writing much about the absurd numbers the bill’s supporters routinely bandy about in hopes of persuading lawmakers that SOPA will be an economic boon and create zillions of jobs. If the proposed solution just won’t work, after all, why bother quibbling about the magnitude of the problem? But then I saw the very astute David Carr’s otherwise excellent column on SOPA’s pitfalls, which took those inflated numbers more or less as gospel. If only because I’m offended to see bad data invoked so routinely and brazenly, on general principle, it’s important to try to set the record straight. The movie and music recording industry have gotten away with using statistics that don’t stand up to the most minimal scrutiny, over and over, for years, to hoodwink both Congress and the general public. Wherever you come down on any particular piece of legislation, this is not how policy should get made in a democracy, and it’s high time they were shamed into cutting it out.
The bogus numbers Carr cites—which I’ll get to in a moment—actually represent a substantial retreat from even more ludicrous statistics the copyright industries long peddled. In my previous life as the Washington editor for the technology news site Ars Technica, I became curious about two implausible sounding claims I kept seeing made over and over—and repeated by prominent U.S. Senators!—in support of more aggressive antipiracy efforts. Intellectual property infringement was supposedly costing the U.S. economy $200–250 billion per year, and had killed 750,000 American jobs. That certainly sounded dire, but those numbers looked suspiciously high, and I was having trouble figuring out exactly where they had originated. I did finally run them down, and wrote up the results of my investigation in a long piece for Ars. Read the whole thing for the full, farcical story, but here’s the upshot: The $200–250 billion number had originated in a 1991 sidebar in Forbes, but it was not a measurement of the cost of “piracy” to the U.S. economy. It was an unsourced estimate of the total size of the global market in counterfeit goods. Beyond the obvious fact that these numbers are decades old, counterfeiting of physical goods imported in bulk and sold by domestic retail distributors is, rather obviously, a totally different phenomenon with different policy implications from the problem of illicit individual consumer downloads of movies, music, and software. The 750,000 jobs number had originated in a 1986 speech (yes, 1986) by the secretary of commerce estimating that counterfeiting could cost the United States “anywhere from 130,000 to 750,000″ jobs. Nobody in the Commerce Department was able to identify where those figures had come from.
Of course the real problem is that money the huge amounts of money flowing into the pockets of members of Congress has totally corrupted the political process in America. The following commentary from a former lobbyist makes this point crystal clear.
As long as the entertainment industry spends more money in Washington than the tech industry, bad laws like SOPA and PIPA will appear with frightening regularity. The government will seem ignorant and unresponsive to the internet community for as long as the internet community refuses to participate — that’s just how this works.
Congress is a game, and anyone who wants to get something done in government plays. Those who don’t play never accomplish anything. It’s a game of reputation, relationships, back-room deals, and big money. And if you haven’t called or written your representatives, or engaged someone to advocate on your behalf, you’re not even spectating from the bleachers — as far as Congress is concerned, you’re sitting in your car listening to the game on the radio, somewhere in the uncharted Canadian tundra. Meanwhile, special interest groups help decide the batting order, while lobbyists line the bases, waving their pet legislation home.
Getting Congress to listen is not the problem with SOPA or PIPA, because they are listening — to the loudest voices with the most money. The tech industry has long been in the game — Google and Microsoft and Apple all certainly employ lobbyists — but it’s time to start playing to win.