Your action is needed now to stop two bills in Congress that if passed would severely limit the free flow of ideas and discussion of public issues on websites, blogs and other internet-based media. We believe these bills directly threaten the continued operation of the Autism Action Network, the Age of Autism, the Schafer Autism Report and other media and groups that exercise our First Amendment rights to criticize government, castigate corporate abuse and speak out on the pressing issues of the day.
Please click on the link below to send an email to your Senators your member of the House of Representatives expressing your opposition to these bills.
The Protect IP Act, Senate Bill S. 968, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), House Resolution H. R. 3261, are being sold as needed laws to stop the online theft of copyrighted material and other intellectual property. But these laws go far beyond that, fundamentally reordering rights and responsibilities on the Internet to benefit owners of intellectual property to the exclusion of all other right and interests.
In a letter Senators Rand Paul, Maria Cantwell, and Jerry Moran said “We take seriously the alarm expressed by the nation's leading investors in new online startups who say the proposal will dampen interest in financing the new ideas and businesses of tomorrow, and to legal and human rights experts who caution that the proposal enables the silencing of speech.”
For example, a website that quotes a medical study or the contents of a drug package insert could violate this law as proposed. Under the pretext of protecting copyrighted material, copyright owners would be able to shut down any website based on the accusation of copyright infringement. Any website that includes any quantity of copyrighted material, including quotes used for the purposes of discussing public issues, could face having access from search engines like Google blocked, it’s ability to use Paypal or credit card companies to do business curtailed, and this could happen on the basis of an accusation. Guilt is assumed, a website owner would have to prove themselves innocent of the accusations to get back in business. The chilling effect of these bills is obvious.
“Companies could also abuse such authority to protect out-dated business models by quashing new innovations in their infancy and discouraging less than complimentary speech,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon at a recent hearing, “In other words, the wrong approach to combating infringement could fundamentally change the Internet as we know it, moving us towards a world where transactions are less secure, ideas are less accessible and starting a website wouldn’t be an option for anyone who couldn’t afford a lawyer.”
This issue seems to cut across party and ideological lines, with conservatives and liberals lining up on both sides of the issue. Copyright holders are already quite well-protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and other legislation. Please help us stop these bills that threaten our basic rights of expression in digital media.
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