Thursday, February 25, 2021
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People Power Beats Goodlatte

Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) must be having a good cry after the loss of his latest pet project. As chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, Goodlatte helped write that so-called anti-piracy act that spurred blackouts on web sites and a petition to Congress with millions of signatures opposing the bill. For now, votes on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate are dead in the water.

Harry Reid, reacting to the protests against PIPA, has postponed bringing it up for a vote (which means he doesn't have the votes to pass it). In the House Lamar Smith, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will not consider SOPA "until there is wider agreement on a solution."

As Andrew Cohill of Design Nine in Blacksburg told The Roanoke Times about the bill from Goodlatte's subcommittee, "The law is written so broadly that the federal government could literally shut down any website they chose to. That's the problem with a poorly written law: It doesn't matter what the intent is if it's poorly written."

Neither bill currently before Congress does what proponents say is their goal - protecting copyrighted works from pirates. Instead, the powers given to the government endanger the freedom of the Internet with the threat of arbitrary shutdown of sites. That sounds more like China than the United States. Back to the drawing boards, Goodlatte, or better yet, retire from Congress like you promised long ago.

Blackout: Websites Go Dark to Protect Free Speech

It's pretty hard to go anywhere online today without noticing a blackout - even Google's logo has joined the cause. Wikipedia explains the action:
SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act," and PIPA is an acronym for the "Protect IP Act." ("IP" stands for "intellectual property.") In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout.
The bills have shattered party lines. According to ProPublica, in Virginia only Rep. Bob Goodlatte has come out for it, standing with liberals like Senators Barbara Boxer & Al Franken. And only Rep. Jim Moran & Sen. Mark Warner have come out against it, standing with conservatives like Representatives Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul & Paul Ryan.

It's an issue on which your voice really could help decide the position of your representative and Sen. Jim Webb. Today Wikipedia will help you locate your member of Congress through any page. If you call your member of Congress and get an answer on their position, let us know in the comments below!

UPDATE 1:31pm: Rep. Gerry Connolly's office tells me he opposes SOPA as well.