Reddit and WordPress Urge Congress to Shelve SOPA/PIPA

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A coalition of 70 groups, including Reddit and WordPress, are asking Congress to stop working on the pending SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills.

Many experts have voiced serious concerns that should be addressed first, they say.

Among other things, the groups argue that the dubious piracy stats as reported by entertainment industry should be ignored.

Instead they ask Congress to determine the true cost of online copyright infringement from independent and unbiased sources.

“This letter shows that the opposition to SOPA and PIPA came from an extraordinarily diverse coalition of well-informed groups and companies who understood perfectly well what was in the bills. This was not an industry-led movement, it was an Internet user movement,” says Ernesto Falcon, congressional affairs director for Public Knowledge.

We attached a copy of the full letter below.

Dear Congress:

We the undersigned groups align ourselves with the more than 14 million Americans who joined us in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).Together we participated in the largest online protest in American history because we believe these bills would have been harmful to free speech, innovation, cyber security, and job creation. We want to thank the Members of Congress who shared our concerns and opposed these bills

Now is the time for Congress to take a breath, step back, and approach the issues from a fresh perspective. A wide variety of important concerns have been expressed – including views from technologists, law professors, international human rights groups, venture capitalists,entrepreneurs, and above all, individual Internet users.

The concerns are too fundamental and too numerous to be fully addressed through hasty revisions to these bills. Nor can they be addressed by closed door negotiations among a small set of inside the beltway stakeholders.

Furthermore, Congress must determine the true extent of online infringement and, as importantly, the economic effects of that activity, from accurate and unbiased sources, and weigh them against the economic and social costs of new copyright legislation.

Congress cannot simply accept industry estimates regarding economic and job implications of infringement given the Government Accountability Office’s clear finding in 2010 that previous statistics and
quantitative studies on the subject have been unreliable.

Finally, any future debates concerning intellectual property law in regards to the Internet must avoid taking a narrow, single-industry perspective. Too often, Congress has focused exclusively on areas where some rights holders believe existing law is too weak, without also considering the ways in which existing policies have undermined free speech and innovation. Some examples include the year-long government seizure of a lawful music blog (dajaz1.com) and the shutdown by private litigation of a lawful startup video platform (veoh.com).

The Internet’s value to the public makes it necessary that any legislative debate in this area be open, transparent, and sufficiently deliberative to allow the full range of interested parties to offer input and to evaluate specific proposals. To avoid doing so would be to repeat the mistakes of SOPA and PIPA

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