You're on the Titanic. The lookout is screaming something about an
iceberg. Obama is captain, and he's meeting with the other ship's
officers to decide what to do. Watch change is coming up soon.
Lookout: "Iceberg! Iceberg!"
Huntsman: "Iceberg sounds sort of like Hindenberg, which was a German
airship. I speak German, you know."
Obama: "The Titanic is unsinkable. Get me the engine room, full power!
More quantitative easing!"
Romney: "Let me talk to the engine room. I used to work on steam engines, I can get us more steam."
Santorum: "Isn't that an iceberg? We should probably change course.
Say, do you think we have any gay passengers? I'm very concerned
about the influence a homosexual might have on the children. And people keep asking me about them, which seems ... sort of ... odd. Maybe they have reason to be concerned."
Bachman: "That does look like an iceberg. Do we have enough lifeboats
for me and my 28 foster children? Women and children are still first
when I'm captain."
Ron Paul: "We suck. We deserve to hit the iceberg."
Gary Johnson: "Can you hear me now? How about now?"
Perry: "Iceberg! Iceberg! I'm going to set a new course and tie myself
to the wheel to make sure we stick to it, if any of you idiots listen to
me. I don't care who's captain, so long as we miss the damn iceberg."
Newt: (on his cell phone) "Yes, air force? I need an airstrike, pronto,
on an iceberg at GPS coordinates xxxxxxyyyyyyyzzzzz... don't worry about
the civilian ship in the vicinity, as soon as I'm off the phone with you
I'll try to turn us around. It's your job to make sure there is no
iceberg if I can't... yes, yes, once I'm captain I'll authorize a
tactical nuke if necessary. And if they won't listen to me I've got a
date with a wrench in the engine room."
I write to express my intense opposition to a bill which you have introduced, the Stop Online Piracy Act. This bill will shut down free speech and censor ordinary citizens speaking online, whether through emails like this one or multimedia commentary through sites like youtube. The legislation is overly restrictive and violates the First Amendment, which as a congressman you swore to uphold.
I believe that you are supporting this legislation at the behest of companies and lobbyists for the media and entertainment industry, who dearly wish to protect their copyrighted works and do not care what amount of collateral damage they inflict upon ordinary citizens in the process. The fact is, since the rise of the internet and encoding technology such as the MP3 audio format, entrenched media industries have attempted to use the law to resist technology disruptive to their monopoly control over the distribution of entertainment media. They have mostly failed in their efforts, which is why they keep returning for harsher and harsher laws and penalties. Yet, they are earning healthy profits when they embrace the new technologies rather than seek to suppress them; music sales through digital outlets such as Amazon and iTunes are through the roof.
Mr. Smith, you represent me. I did not elect you to write legislation making uploading content to the internet a felony. I did not elect you to empower the police to seize domain names, part of the basic internet infrastructure, based on accusations from special interests with no due process.
Given your position with respect to this legislation, I do not expect you to vote against it, but as your constituent, I demand that you withdraw it immediately and pledge to respect and honor the First Amendment in all future legislation.
I am watching how you vote, and I am watching for primary challengers to replace you if your votes do not represent me.
I am writing to urge my Senators, John Cornyn and Kay Hutchinson, to
oppose the Protect-IP Act in ANY AND ALL forms. The free speech of
American citizens is too important to risk in a misguided attempt to
protect copyrighted works. If this legislation, or any similar legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, passes, entire domains will be put at an unacceptable risk
of being shut down due to unfounded complaints without due process of law.
A "domain" means an entity such as Google.com -- which provides billions
of automatically generated links every day to users who seek to find
information, and which cannot possible ensure that every single one of
those links is entirely free of copyrighted content. A "domain" can
also mean an entity such as any of the three or four small websites I
run to publish my thoughts and opinions on news, politics, and computing
issues. I have invested years of work and thousands of posts, each
with one or more links and often "Fair Use" excerpted quotations about
which I wish to comment.
If I should quote someone's words in a manner they do not like -- quite
likely, since I usually quote in the process of criticism -- should they
be able to demand I remove my speech and hold my domain hostage until I
do so? That is unAmerican and unacceptable in a free society.
It is true that our copyright laws need revising. They need to be
revised to take into account the new capabilities of our internet-based
digital distribution systems. They need to be updated to *strengthen*,
not eliminate, fair-use based protections for commentary and speech
about copyrighted works. They need to be updated to respect the
Constitutional demand that copyright be granted *for a limited time*,
rather than ensure a perpetual profit from ownership of cartoon mice.
I oppose the Protect-IP Act. I urge you, my Senators, to do the same.