VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 50   |  DECEMBER 14 – 20, 2011

DECEMBER 14, 2011

ALG thanks Rep. Franks for opposing Internet censorship bill in committee

FAIRFAX, Va. – Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today praised Rep. Trent Franks, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, for opposing legislation he said would “give the government power to censor the Internet.”

“Nobody likes Internet piracy, but this legislation is going to create a regime of Internet censorship in the name of protecting copyright.  This will particularly endanger social networking sites, search engines, and any website that allows users to upload content of being shut down,” Wilson warned.

“Why would anyone want to give government the power to shut down websites?” Wilson asked, adding, “There are already sufficient protections for copyright under existing law, including the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

Wilson expressed concern that the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would be undermined by the new legislation, which protects social websites that provide for easy takedown procedures for potential infringing materials.

“Under current law, rights holders can inform a website that it has infringing material and ask that it is removed, and failing that, can already take action,” Wilson noted.  “This takes the safe harbor provisions of current law and throws them in the garbage for websites that have been diligent in following the rules.”

The legislation, HR 3261, would also allow copyright holders to take private actions against alleged infringing websites with the force of law behind them, including seeking the termination of advertising and payment services. 

Wilson called it “overkill,” calling it a “death sentence for Internet service providers” noting that websites can have millions of pages, and that under the legislation revenue streams or the website itself could be shut down  if just a single page of a site is found to have infringing material. 

“The bill also risks placing onerous, court-ordered mandates on Internet service providers that would require websites to somehow prevent their services from being used to post infringing material, even if it’s technologically impossible to do so,” Wilson warned.

“We thank Rep. Franks for closely examining the horrendous implications of this bill, which will be the end of social networking all together.  This must be defeated.  Censorship is not the solution to Internet piracy,” Wilson concluded.

HR 3261 is expected to be voted on in the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.