The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

NetCoalition, CEA, and CCIA Respond to Members of Congress On Stop Online Piracy Act

Letter to Members of the House of Representatives

October 31, 2011

Dear Member of Congress:

Last week, Representatives Lamar Smith, Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers, Howard Berman and eight others introduced H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (“SOPA”). This legislation has been framed by its sponsors as a vehicle to protect U.S. trademarks and copyrights from foreign “rogue” websites. While we support this concept, H.R. 3261 puts lawful U.S. Internet and technology companies at risk by creating new liabilities, opening the door for vague new technology mandates, imposing significant costs on small businesses, and would create a new unprecedented private right of action regime for intellectual property.

Under this bill, a foreign or domestic Internet site that has broken no U.S. law can nevertheless have its economic lifeblood cut off upon a single notice from a copyright or trademark owner (or perhaps an owner of a patent or trade secret, or possibly even a celebrity with a right of publicity) who alleges that a single page of the site “enables or facilitates” illegal activity by third parties.

Moreover, a court can second-guess whether an Internet advertising network is taking all technically feasible and reasonable measures to prevent the placement of ads on a site that has not been found to infringe an existing intellectual property right.

As currently drafted, we believe SOPA is an alarming step backwards in Internet policy creating  a thicket of Internet regulations containing 16 new legal definitions for evolving Internet technology (including a definition for the word “including”). Further, the definition of “dedicated to theft of U.S. property” is so broad it would unduly ensnare legitimate companies’ websites, products and services.

For example, SOPA would:

  • Effectively undermine provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Supreme Court jurisprudence that have promoted electronic commerce, cooperation between intellectual property holders and Internet companies, and user privacy. In so doing, SOPA creates a litigation and liability nightmare for Internet and technology companies and social media;
  • Create new litigation risks for cloud computing, social networks, and other new technologies that simply have the potential of being misused by consumers. Virtually every Internet site that allows user generated content can be subject to suit under SOPA and the bill could force Internet companies to police their users’ activities;
  • Allow intellectual property owners to seek actions including the termination of advertising and payment services for an entire site even if there is only one page of unlawful content on a site that has millions of pages;
  • Institute a regime for Internet censorship by both law enforcement and private actors, undermining the U.S.’s ability to oppose Internet censorship by oppressive, undemocratic countries;
  • Allow law enforcement and judges to impose technology mandates on Internet companies to prevent their products and services from being used for illegal conduct by third parties;
  • Introduce serious security risks to our communications infrastructure and the critical national infrastructure that depends on it;
  • Incentivize ISPs, registrars, registries, ad networks, payment processors, and search engines to take action against a domestic or foreign site when prompted by a rightsholder by providing complete immunity for taking such action while exposing those intermediaries to potential liability if they do not take such action.  The property rights of the accused site are tossed away with no recourse and remedy for harm by the website owner;
  • Provide for monetary sanctions against intermediaries (payment processors and ad services) in suits initiated by private actors (i.e. private right of action).

In short, this is not a bill that targets “rogue foreign sites.” Rather, it allows movie studios, foreign luxury goods manufacturers, patent and copyright trolls, and any holder of any intellectual property right to target lawful U.S. websites and technology companies.

Our industry has and will continue to suggest alternative approaches that would target unlawful, foreign sites without the collateral damage inflicted by the proposals in H.R. 3261.

For the reasons above, we respectfully ask that you do not cosponsor H.R. 3261.  A more detailed and substantive analysis of SOPA’s most critical defects and impact on legitimate companies is forthcoming.

Sincerely,

One Response to “NetCoalition, CEA, and CCIA Respond to Members of Congress On Stop Online Piracy Act”

  1. Mike Smullin says:

    Tell your representatives: “NO CHINA-STYLE BLOCKLIST HR 3261 — US Rogue Websites Bill aka SOPA, Protect IP, E-PARASITE, etc.”
    https://www.votizen.com/no-china-style-blocklist-hr-3261-us-rogue-websites-bill-aka-sopa-protect-ip/

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“Any time a movie causes a country to threaten nuclear retaliation, the higher-ups wanna get in a room with you… In terms of getting the word out about the movie, it’s not bad. If they actually make good on it, it would be bad for the world—but luckily that doesn’t seem like their style… We’ll make a movie that maybe for two seconds will make some 18-year-old think about North Korea in a way he never would have otherwise. Or who knows? We were told one of the reasons they’re so against the movie is that they’re afraid it’ll actually get into North Korea. They do have bootlegs and stuff. Maybe the tapes will make their way to North Korea and cause a fucking revolution. At best, it will cause a country to be free, and at worst, it will cause a nuclear war. Big margin with this movie.”
~ Seth Rogen In Rolling Stone 1224

“Yes, good movies sprout up, inevitably, in the cracks and seams between the tectonic plates on which all of these franchises stay balanced, and we are reassured of their hardiness. But we don’t see what we don’t see; we don’t see the effort, or the cost of the effort, or the movies of which we’re deprived because of the cost of the effort. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice may have come from a studio, but it still required a substantial chunk of outside financing, and at $35 million, it’s not even that expensive. No studio could find the $8.5 million it cost Dan Gilroy to make Nightcrawler. Birdman cost a mere $18 million and still had to scrape that together at the last minute. Imagine American movie culture for the last few years without Her or Foxcatcher or American Hustle or The Master or Zero Dark Thirty and it suddenly looks markedly more frail—and those movies exist only because of the fairy godmothership of independent producer Megan Ellison. The grace of billionaires is not a great business model on which to hang the hopes of an art form.”
~ Mark Harris On The State Of The Movies