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.