January 2, 2012

Hanna supports SOPA

Update: It could be worse. I could have called Senator Schumer. Even the added explanation in the update at the bottom there doesn't make this any better.

A few weeks ago I called Congressman Richard Hanna's office to register my objections to HR 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act". I regard SOPA as perhaps the best example ever of a proposal for protecting vested interests by giving the fox control of the henhouse. Copyright holders will be able to pretty much shut down entire sites when they claim there have been copyright violations. David Carr has written a somewhat kinder interpretation of the law for a broader audience.

My job is all about creating copyrighted information, and you might think I'd be interested in protecting it, but this is a case where the cure is a few thousand times worse than the illness. It's hard to imagine a better set of tools for squashing non-commercial speech that happens to reference commercial speech, while blundering around the Internet tearing down sites pretty much at will.

I did get a response from Hanna's office (180KB PDF) over the holidays, and I have to say it's a remarkable document. It read like a let-down, but I had to read it three times before I concluded that he's saying that he's quietly supporting SOPA. The argument that he uses to justify his position is one that I suspect would point to opposing SOPA in any sane universe:

Like you, I believe strongly in the importance of free speech, as it is a cornerstone of American democracy. In addition, an individual's hard work, ingenuity, and creative deserve the strongest protections possible. For these reasons, I am committed to protecting an individual's freedom of speech, as well as their right to fully reap the benefits of their own hard work.

In other words, Hanna looks forward to selling out a lot of what should be protected speech in favor of protecting commercial speech. I'm sure his office will be very helpful when constituents suddenly find themselves trolled for copyright violation fees by companies who've decided it's more profitable to litigate than create, wielding the blunt clubs that SOPA offers them.

Here's hoping he's not my Congressman much longer.

Posted by simon at January 2, 2012 12:06 PM in ,
Note on photos