In the aftermath of the defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, a long list of organizations have sent a letter to Congress asking members to “take a breath” before they trying to push through new piracy legislation.
The letter argues that the “wide variety of important concerns” that were expressed during the SOPA/PIPA protests cannot be addressed through “hasty revisions” to the bills. Instead, there needs to be more research and transparent discussion about the broader issues:
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).
A number of Web companies signed off on the letter, including Asana, WordPress-maker Automattic, the Cheezburger Network, Mozilla, Reddit, and Twipic. So did startup investment firms Foundry Group, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and SV Angel. And lest this be portrayed as simply a battle between the tech and media industries, the letter was also signed by the American Library Association, Amnesty International, and OpenCongress.org (to pick three names at random).