SOPA, PROTECT IP will stifle creativity and diminish free speech, says WUSTL experts

Jan 18, 2012 By Jessica Martin

Wikipedia and other sites go dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act under consideration in Congress. Three law professors from Washington University in St. Louis, Kevin Collins, Gregory Magarian and Neil Richards, signed a letter to Congress in opposition to the PROTECT IP Act. Below are Magarian and Richards’ current comments on SOPA and PROTECT IP.

Gregory P. Magarian, JD, constitutional law and expert, says that PROTECT IP Act and SOPA are to intellectual property what the infamous Communications Decency Act was to “indecent” online material – an incredibly powerful, blunt instrument that would drastically diminish free speech in the name of protecting copyrights.

“The proposed statutes use vaguely phrased standards for determining the identity of infringing websites, and they would allow the government to bar transactions with, and even links to, cites that it finds to infringe,” he says.

“A search engine could violate the law simply by returning the name of an ‘infringing’ site in a search. This is akin to punishing a publisher who prepares a list of names and addresses of purveyors of obscene materials. It is a frightening and far-reaching form of thought control.

“The proposed statutes continue and exacerbate the trend of wealthy holders’ prevailing on to inflate copyright protection beyond any reasonable construction of the Constitution’s Copyright Clause, without regard to the public’s interest in access to information.”

Neil Richards, JD, First Amendment and privacy law expert, says that both SOPA and the Protect IP Act are unnecessary to protect copyrighted media from unfair uses.

“Copyright holders already have substantial powers under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other statutes, and new copyrights granted today can last for a century or more, at the expense of the vibrant public domain that makes any creativity possible,” he says.

“At a time when our copyright law is over-protective in both duration and scope, stifling creativity by individuals, we need less protection for copyrighted works, and not more. The sheer amount of lobbying money that the copyright industries have been able to dump into the political process on this issue is testament both to their corporate profitability and their greed.”

More importantly, Richards notes, the means that these bills would give government to protect copyright holders are unprecedented in scope, giving them the power to break the Internet in pursuit of little more than extra profit.

“These powers are inconsistent with our historic commitments to the free exchange of information and ideas, they threaten First Amendment values, and they are certainly unconstitutional as they currently drafted,” Richards says.

“These values of free expression are coded into the current structure of the Internet, and SOPA and the Protect-IP Act would try to change the nature of the Internet, making it closed rather than open. Given this reality, it should be no surprise that virtually all of the big Internet companies have come out in to these terrible bills.”

Explore further: Entrepreneur, activist Sina Khanifar on digital copyright reform

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User comments : 36

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Jaeherys
not rated yet Jan 18, 2012
Will this have any affect outside of the U.S.? If not, couldn't this force some companies out of America?
Isaacsname
3 / 5 (2) Jan 18, 2012
Wiki is still accessible.

Rofl :P
ryggesogn2
1.3 / 5 (23) Jan 18, 2012
This just another example of socialism, state control of private property.
Physorg and many others who post here have NO problem with using state power to control people economic lives if it supports their objectives.
Live by the sword, die by the sword.
rawa1
1 / 5 (5) Jan 18, 2012
From AWT follows, the poor economical situation (low energy density state of society) always induces totalitarian tendencies, bringing the society into state of boson condensate. It's analogy of boson condensate formation under cooling. It's the price for ignorance of cold fusion too, because the contemporary financial crisis has been initiated with growth of fossil fuel prices and energy in general.
Wiki is still accessible.
It's accessible only when you disable scripting/redirection on it.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2012
I wish restrictions on free speech and personal freedom ALWAYS had negative impacts on corporations. This much momentum could really change the country if it was used properly and consistently...
ryggesogn2
1.2 / 5 (24) Jan 18, 2012
If the internet is going to be vehicle where people can steal intellectual property, who will be willing to work long hours, investing millions of dollars preparing and publishing that material?
No one.
Atlas shrugs.

Most likely the approach Congress is taking is all wrong, which is not a surprise as they take the wrong approach most of the time.
Follow the example set by the music industry and sue.
mrtea
not rated yet Jan 19, 2012
The internet present a paradigm shift in sharing of all kinds of information, copyright or otherwise. We have a war going on. As usual the solutions probably exist (eg very low priced phone apps, allTunes music by the kilo, etc), but all we get are casualties.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (21) Jan 19, 2012
Millions of copies of pirated movies, music, etc sold will dry up the money used to fund creative people.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (6) Jan 19, 2012
Honest people that oppose SOPA aren't opposing it because of the ban on pirated software... something that's illegal to have anyway. They oppose it because of the obscenely vague wording in the bill. A naive person can look at the bill and say "that's ok, it'll only be used to ban pirated software" but when was the last time 'the law' wasn't used to further a person's/corporation's/government's private agenda. Remember that we live in a country where you can sue a company for serving hot coffee and you can sue a homeowner if you injure yourself while robbing their house.

Stealing copywrited material is already illegal and Hollywood has lobbied to get their copywrites extended for a century... good for them. If they find a good way to enforce the law, that's fine, I'm a fan of intellectual property rights. However, SOPA takes it too far and DOESN'T solve the problem
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (21) Jan 19, 2012
Too bad you all don't feel the same about protecting your economic rights and protesting the other socialist polices of this regime.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (17) Jan 19, 2012
I believe you're confusing socialism with something else. If our government was socialist, land and wealth would be managed and distributed equally by the community, whereas a majority of our land and wealth is controlled by the government and corporations.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (21) Jan 19, 2012
Socialism is state control.
Don't the socialist claim the govt is 'of the people' so if the state controls the property the 'people' control the property.
You don't believe the govt controls corporations? Many corporations want the Keystone pipeline to be built, but not the Obama regime so he refuses to please Robert Redford, a wealthy movie star crushing job opportunities for thousands.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (18) Jan 19, 2012
Socialism: (from dictionary.com) a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole

State control of land and production falls under the lose definition of "State Capitalism"

If the state controls the property but the people elect officials to the state, that's a Republic electing officials that support "State Capitalism".

I don't believe that the US government controls corporations. Quite the opposite, since money gets officials elected and corporations own the money. Note that I'm not taking sides on the morality of this... after years of thought, I'm still unsure
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (20) Jan 19, 2012
I don't believe that the US government controls corporations.

They control all the banks with hundreds of regulations.
They control every business with EPA and OSHA regulations and tax laws.
A corporation must file with the SEC, a govt agency, file all sorts of reports to remain a corporation.
The govt doesn't control corporations?

Socialism is defined by Mises in his book Socialism as govt control of property. If the govt limits your ability to do what you want with your property the govt controls your property. If you really own the property you can sell it, dispose of it do what ever you want (as long as it does not violate property rights of others).
Own a business? You MUST pay at least minimum wage to your employees.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (14) Jan 20, 2012
You're working on the premise that the corporations simply submit to the "intent of the law" and that the corporations have no input into how laws are written. Protect IP and SOPA are excellent examples of corporations writing a law (or at least strongly suggesting wording for a law). So is NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, a law that only requires that you document the damage you're causing. There are no laws in the books that specifically prohibit causing environmental damage. An intelligently-run, motivated, well funded corporation will eventually get whatever they want if society allows it (read: if the masses don't revolt)

This style of Bourgeoisie Capitalism has become a cornerstone of American culture and power. Good, bad or indifferent, its how the world currently works.

If at last you still think the government controls corporations, see: Super PAC
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (13) Jan 20, 2012
The only thing that will change the situation is for the masses to revolt, like we've seen recently in the middle east. The standard of living is pretty good in the US for most, though, and history shows us that what we end up with is often worse than what we started with. I don't see things changing anytime soon
Vendicar_Decarian
0.8 / 5 (40) Jan 21, 2012
This is absolute rubbish. Restricting freedom of communication is the ultimate freedom. Or so my Conservative Libertarian Friends have told me.
Callippo
3 / 5 (2) Jan 21, 2012
Millions of copies of pirated movies, music, etc sold will dry up the money used to fund creative people.
This is just a theory without products actually sold. How can you explain after then, the salaries of actors, singers and SW game companies were never as high as today? The profit of movies increases steadily. Actually the illegal copies are serving as an ads for many people, who would never visit the movie or concert without seeing it at home.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (8) Jan 21, 2012
salaries of actors, singers and SW game companies were never as high as today?

Are they?

You're working on the premise that the corporations simply submit to the "intent of the law" and that the corporations have no input into how laws are written.

No, I am not. Meat packers whole heatedly supported the creation of the FDA to limit competition. The 'progressives' could have refused, but the state wanted that power to impose the income tax, create the Federal Reserve to control the money supply and the banks. The govt was humiliated when JP Morgan bailed out banks in 1907.
The govt has the power, not corporations.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Jan 22, 2012
The people have the power, not government since the government is of the people, by the people. But in America not for the people, but for the Corporations, whom government has defined as people.

You poor Libertarian Retard, you.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Jan 22, 2012
Sorry Tard boy... But there is no such thing as "intellectual property". It is an illegitimate concept sold by small minded Libertarians such as yourself to further the interests of their Corporate Masters.

"If the internet is going to be vehicle where people can steal intellectual property" - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Jan 22, 2012
Haven't you noticed that no one cares what third rate hack economists think?

"Socialism is defined by Mises,,,"
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (39) Jan 22, 2012
Under your Moronic Libertarian/Randite definition then, which nations on earth are not Socialist?

"Socialism is state control." - RyggTard
kochevnik
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 22, 2012
Under your Moronic Libertarian/Randite definition then, which nations on earth are not Socialist?
Why his dreamland utopias Somalia and Yemen! Throw in the Japan Trench and the moon for good measure.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (8) Jan 22, 2012
It is only the socialist that believes in Utopia.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Jan 22, 2012
"Importantly, we find that Somali living standards have often improved, not just in
absolute terms, but also relative to other African countries since the collapse of the
Somali central government."
http://www.indepe...alia.pdf
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (38) Jan 22, 2012
"It is only the socialist that believes in Utopia." - RyggTard

Utopia? That is the principle continent on the Libertarian planet Libertopia.
ccr5Delta32
1 / 5 (1) Jan 23, 2012
@ryggesogn
Section 103:
1) DEDICATED TO THEFT OF U.S. PROPERTY
####
(I) is taking, or has taken, deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U.S.-directed site to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 or 1201 of title 17, United States Code; or ,,,,,
So much for personal liberty .This assumes guilt ,any uncooperative action is a violation. All the accuser has to do is assert " I'm sure he's up to no good" and there's not even a requirement to apologize if their mistaken
As a libertarian That should scare the pants off you .
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jan 23, 2012
While SOPA, PIPA are pretty much counter productive and would "diminish free speech" I don't think that they would "stifle creativity".

Creativity is independent of money or the measn of distribution. If you're an artist you're an artist. If you're in it for the money then your art isn't worth a damn, anyways.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Jan 23, 2012
If you're an artist you're an artist. If you're in it for the money then your art isn't worth a damn, anyways.

How, or who, will fund your 'art'?
Unless you have the ownership rights to your intellectual property, how can you spend time creating when you must work for food?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 23, 2012
how can you spend time creating when you must work for food?

Concerts? Exhibitions? Movie theaters?
There are plenty of was for an artist to make money off of their art if they really have to (and if they are any good).
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Jan 23, 2012
Next time I attend a concert I will bring a real good video camera, make copies, and sell them on the internet.
Photons and phonons are free to collect by all.
NotAsleep
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2012
Last weekend after skiing up at Park City, I went to a bar "down town" to catch the Patriots game and it just so happened to be the first Sunday of the Sundance Film festival. I struck up a conversation with a wild-haired, flamboyant Tom Brady fan who, more importantly, was a film producer and distributor. He told me this story:

He was finishing up a draft copy of a small, private, animated film in South Korea and got on a plane with his draft to head to a US film distribution company. When he arrived, the company manager smiled and said, "I love your film!" Which was perplexing, since he hadn't shown it to anyone yet. He was brought into a show room and witnessed a fully-polished, final version of his film. Someone on his staff had finished and pirated the movie. He said this is a common occurence in the industry.

I'm not sure if any law could prevent things like this happening. With digital content and corrupt employees, it's amazing the "little guys" keep going
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2012
Next time I attend a concert I will bring a real good video camera,

I hope you have enough cash to buy a new one - because they'll confiscate that at the door.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2012
Next time I attend a concert I will bring a real good video camera,

I hope you have enough cash to buy a new one - because they'll confiscate that at the door.

How can they? It's MY property, I have the right to record anything I want!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2012
Um. No. A concert isn't a public space. When you go there you play by the concert organiser's rules or not at all.

Freedom of speech does not apply to private/exclusive events (in this case exclusive to those who pay admittance).