Internet Companies Place Anti-SOPA Ad in New York Times
Usually heated competitors in Silicon Valley, Google and Facebook have joined forces to combat legislation that many have claimed to be "the end of the Internet." The two companies, along with other huge tech companies ranging from eBay to AOL, published a collective letter addressed to Congress in the New York Times yesterday arguing against the Stop Online Piracy Act currently on the table in Congress.
In the letter, the tech giants appealed to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, saying that if approved, SOPA would critically undermine all the progress the DMCA has made in the last decade. Underlining the merits of the safe harbor provisions guaranteed to ISPs, they said:
While we work together to find additional ways to target foreign "rogue" sites, we should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and Internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people create, find, discuss, and share information lawfully online.
Although the anti-SOPA movement is backed by powerful leaders in the technology industry, it faces opposition from equally powerful corporations as well. Rebecca MacKinnon in The New York Times notes that legislators who proposed SOPA "have an impressive array of well-financed backers, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians, the Directors Guild of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Screen Actors Guild." Arguing that the bill would protect American intellectual property from foreign thieves, supporters of SOPA could bring features of the Chinese Firewall across the Pacific, says MacKinnon.
Other companies have reached out to legislators in other ways as well. The Register reports that Mozilla has joined together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in attempts to rally citizens to lobby their House representatives and senators about voting against SOPA. And in terms of inciting congressional action, the letter's publication was no accident—members of Congress are set to debate the bill today in the House of Representatives.