The White House says the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) goes too far. "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," leaders from the Obama Administration officially responded Saturday morning on whitehouse.gov. "We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet."
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261
, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act
of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act
The White House message was signed by Victoria Espinel
, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Aneesh Chopra
, US Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt
, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff. These individuals have typically been pro-copyright and supportive of anti-piracy legislation, but the latest step-back suggests that adamant public protest against SOPA is having an impact.
The full text of the White House statement is printed below. The Motion Picture Association of America quickly responded to the White House's new stance. "Neither of these bills implicate free expression but focus solely on illegal conduct, which is not free speech," the group stated. The full text of the MPAA statement is printed below the White House statement
Combating Online Piracy While Protecting An Open And Innovative Internet
By Victoria Espinel, Aneesh Chopra, and Howard Schmidt
Thanks for taking the time to sign this petition. Both your words and actions illustrate the importance of maintaining an open and democratic Internet.
Right now, Congress is debating a few pieces of legislation concerning the very real issue of online piracy, including the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the PROTECT IP Act, and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN). We want to take this opportunity to tell you what the Administration will support—and what we will not support. Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small. Across the globe, the openness of the Internet is increasingly central to innovation in business, government, and society and it must be protected. To minimize this risk, new legislation must be narrowly targeted only at sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law, cover activity clearly prohibited under existing U.S. laws, and be effectively tailored, with strong due process and focused on criminal activity. Any provision covering Internet intermediaries such as online advertising networks, payment processors, or search engines must be transparent and designed to prevent overly broad private rights of action that could encourage unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.
We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet. Proposed laws must not tamper with the technical architecture of the Internet through manipulation of the Domain Name System (DNS), a foundation of Internet security. Our analysis of the DNS filtering provisions in some proposed legislation suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity and yet leave contraband goods and services accessible online. We must avoid legislation that drives users to dangerous, unreliable DNS servers and puts next-generation security policies, such as the deployment of DNSSEC, at risk.
Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation's most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders. That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders while staying true to the principles outlined above in this response. We should never let criminals hide behind a hollow embrace of legitimate American values.
This is not just a matter for legislation. We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.
So, rather than just look at how legislation can be stopped, ask yourself: Where do we go from here? Don’t limit your opinion to what’s the wrong thing to do, ask yourself what’s right. Already, many members of Congress are asking for public input around the issue. We are paying close attention to those opportunities, as well as to public input to the Administration. The organizer of this petition and a random sample of the signers will be invited to a conference call to discuss this issue further with Administration officials and soon after that, we will host an online event to get more input and answer your questions. Details on that will follow in the coming days.
Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue websites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders. We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge.
Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation. Again, thank you for taking the time to participate in this important process. We hope you’ll continue to be part of it.
Motion Picture Association of American Response
"We welcome the Administration's clear statement that legislation is needed to stop foreign based thieves from stealing the hard work and creativity of millions of American workers. For too long in this debate, those that seek to preserve and profit from the status quo have moved to obstruct reasonable legislation. While many of the elements mentioned in the White House statement are critically important, we believe, as do others in our coalition, that protecting American jobs is important too, particularly in these difficult economic times for our nation. We are pleased that Chairman Leahy and Chairman Smith reiterated yesterday that they too support action. So now it is time to stop the obstruction and move forward on legislation.
Our industry not only fully supports free expression, our livelihood is built upon a vibrant First Amendment - it is the foundation of our industry and we would never support any legislation that would limit this fundamental American right. As had been made clear throughout the legislative consideration of SOPA and the PROTECT-IP Act, neither of these bills implicate free expression but focus solely on illegal conduct, which is not free speech. We agree with Secretary Clinton's recent statement that "There is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement and ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet."
We also share the Administration's desire to encourage innovation. The American businesses that are victimized on a daily basis by global Internet thieves are among the most innovative industries in this nation and we welcome the Administration's support of these American businesses. Every day, American jobs are threatened by thieves from foreign-based rogue websites. This deplorable situation persists because U.S. law enforcement does not have the tools to fight back.
While we agree with the White House that protection against online piracy is vital, that protection must be meaningful to protect the people who have been and will continue to be victimized if legislation is not enacted. Meaningful legislation must include measured and reasonable remedies that include ad brokers, payment processors and search engines. They must be part of a solution that stops theft and protects American consumers.
We applaud the continued leadership in the House and Senate for working to enact common-sense legislation to stop foreign websites from stealing American creativity and jobs. Misinformation simply can't be allowed to replace honest debate, and derail the critically important fight to protect American jobs. We hope the Administration’s role in this debate now will help steer the attention now to what can be accomplished and passed into law to protect American jobs.
On behalf of the 2.2 million Americans whose jobs depend on the film and television industries, we look forward to the Administration playing a constructive role in this process and working with us to pass legislation that will offer real protection for American jobs. The failure to pass meaningful legislation will result in overseas websites continuing to be a safe haven for criminals stealing and profiting from America."
posted on mpaa.org.