|Myth vs. Fact: Debunking Dishonest and Inaccurate Claims Against SOPA/PIPA|
|Thursday, January 12 2012|
ALEXANDRIA, VA – For months, most of the arguments offered against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives – as well as the Protect IP Act (PIPA), SOPA’s counterpart in the Senate – have been sorely misinformed or even altogether dishonest. Opponents’ arguments that SOPA will somehow muzzle free speech or end the Internet as we know it, among other sky-is-falling rhetoric, simply don’t square with the legislative text or basic judicial reality.
Sadly, SOPA opponents continue to propagate such misinformation at the 2012 International CES in Las Vegas, to the point where they have become a prominent spectacle at this year’s show.
In response, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF), a leading proponent of badly needed Congressional legislation to finally crack down on Internet piracy by foreign rogue websites, dispels some of the more common SOPA/PIPA misinformation with a straightforward “Myth vs. Reality” primer.
Myth #1: SOPA or PIPA “would go so far to protect copyright that they would strangle the Internet with regulation.”
Reality: The legislation targets websites that would already “be subject to seizure in the United States … if such site were a domestic Internet site,” or that are primarily designed or operated for the “dedicated” purpose of violating existing federal laws. Obviously, no Internet site possesses the right to pirate the intellectual property of others, so it hardly makes sense to claim that targeting such sites would somehow mean the end of the Internet. But more broadly, online piracy by domestic sites is already illegal, yet somehow the Internet has managed to survive in America.
Myth #2: SOPA or PIPA somehow fail to provide due process and “give the federal government and Hollywood studios the right to censor and shut down websites.”
Reality: In order to obtain relief, prosecutors or private parties would have to petition courts for relief as with any other legal proceeding, with the panoply of due process protections. For instance, aggrieved parties would have to provide notice of the alleged violation to the targeted site, which would then have the opportunity to rebut the allegations and present evidence. Moreover, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65 would apply just as in any other legal proceeding to obtain injunctive relief. That means that relief could only be granted after demonstrating “specific facts” showing “immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage,” a hearing “at the earliest possible time,” and “only if the movant gives security in an amount that the court considers proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.” Additionally, any court granting injunctive relief would have to provide “reasons why it issued” and “reasonable detail” of “the act or acts restrained or required.” All of this ensures notice and a fair legal proceeding, which is the very definition of due process.
Myth #3: Anti-piracy legislation would unduly burden small Internet sites targeted by deep-pocketed plaintiff corporations.
Reality: The proposed bill states explicitly that court relief would require only “technically feasible and reasonable measures” by sites in question. Further, there is specifically no duty to continually monitor, and defendants would possess the affirmative defense that they don’t possess the “technical means to comply without incurring unreasonable economic burden.” In addition to the usual perjury protections, moreover, the legislation punishes any plaintiff that knowingly brings a false claim by holding them liable for not only damages caused, but also attorneys’ fees and costs. The bill also empowers courts to modify, suspend or vacate orders whenever “the interests of justice otherwise require.”
Myth #4: Legislation targeting online piracy somehow constitutes “censorship” and violates the U.S. Constitution.
Reality: First of all, online piracy does not constitute “free speech.” Second, otherwise illegal activity does not magically achieve sacred status or legal immunity simply because it occurs on the Internet rather than on a street corner. Third, this legislation would remain subject to the same judicial review applicable to any other statute.
Myth #5: DNS blocking would change the way the Internet works, and would “break the Internet.”
Reality: Such claims are inaccurate. DNS filtering is already commonly used today as one of the primary methods to promote Internet security and defend against phishing scams and malware. Indeed, a simple search for “DNS filtering services” or “DNS blocking services” yields a plethora of companies that provide this service to networks and users.
“The first preconditions for a prosperous and just society are rule of law and protection of property rights,” said Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs. “Anti-piracy legislation now before Congress finally addresses the threat of foreign piracy, and it’s unfortunate that so many opponents have resorted to inaccurate and flatly dishonest claims in an attempt to derail it.
“We urge policymakers and members of media not to fall prey to the misinformed rhetoric that is all-too-prominent in this debate. The destructive menace of foreign Internet piracy has festered for far too long, and this legislation offers the proper remedy,” Lee concluded.
*******For media inquiries, please contact the Center for Individual Freedom at 703-535-5836*******
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