Statement Against SOPA

We, the 99%, call upon our elected representatives to oppose censorship, and reject the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.

SOPA and the Protect IP Act would make it possible for the federal government and judges to censor content on the Internet. The government would be given the power to block access to websites and to put websites on a DNS blacklist. Potentially, anything from Facebook to your friend’s blog could be shut down for possible “copyright infringement.” If SOPA becomes law, posting a video with any kind of copyrighted material could be considered a felony.

Civil rights groups, leading technology companies, and hundreds of law professors and lawyers oppose SOPA and the Protect IP Act. They recognize that these bills threaten to break the internet’s infrastructure and stifle the rights of people to freely express themselves. We know multinational corporations have spent lots of money lobbying our representatives to pass this legislation – legislation that is clearly counter to the interests of the 99%.

Over the last decade, digital information networks have made it possible for people around the world to communicate with each other more freely than ever before. We have begun to truly realize our shared humanity. But, the technology that has helped make this possible is not yet under our control. So far, that infrastructure has been operated with an eye toward liberty and justice; but, now we find that our rights to privacy, assembly, and speech in cyberspace are under attack.

We, the New York City General Assembly of #OccupyWallStreet, recognize the critical importance of a free and open internet. The openness of the internet and our right to free speech is threatened by SOPA and Protect IP. They must be stopped.

Read the full approved statement: Draft Proposal for Sunday 12/4 General Assembly: Tech


To check on the status of the bills:
Protect IP:

For more information visit:


PIPA’s January 24th Vote and How a Filibuster Works- Ernesto Falcon, Director of Government Affairs explains how the filibuster process works in Congress regarding PIPA. The public is encouraged to contact their Senators during this crucial time.

How a Bill Stays a Bill: The Story of SOPA and PIPA-Michael Weiberg explains how Public Knowledge has been instrumental in engaging the issue of COICA, SOPA and PIPA from its inception. This short video explains the origins of this legislation, the efforts by its proponents to push it through Congress and resistance encountered by the  massive engagement of opponents.

Impressions on the SOPA Markup, Thursday Evening-Sherwin Siy discusses the lack of consideration for several proposed amendments during the recent SOPA markup up. Despite the lack of technical expertise on the committee, Congressional leaders approved few changes, leaving many of the damaging portions in place.

Playing With Numbers: Why SOPA Still Won’t Solve Internet Piracy– During a the Congressional hearing on SOPA, Representative Conyers stated that 25% of the Internet consists of copyright infringement. PK examined this number and researched the validity of this statement, concluding that it is an inflated estimate at best. One for which SOPA would still not be a viable solution.

PIPA v SOPA-Katy Tasker explains the differences between the House and Senate versions of this piece of legislation. Tasker explains while there are slight differences between the bills, the both contain detrimental implications for the Internet.

SOPA Hearing flawed as the bill itself-Martyn Griffen summarizes the House Judiciary’s Hearing on HR 3261, The Stop Online Piracy Act. The hearing consisted of a lop-sided panel, mostly in favor of this bill. While bi-partisan opposition does exist, the hearing was a disappointment for those expecting a fair dialogue.

Piracy is Bad for Business, But So is SOPA-Legal Intern Dana Smith explains how the passage of this bill would detrimental to Internet businesses and stifle entrepreneurship. Consequences that seriously outweigh the symptoms this bill attempts to remedy.

“House Version of Rogue Websites Bill Adds DMCA Bypass, Penalties for DNS Workarounds” – Sherwin Siy
Public Knowledge Deputy Legal Director Sherwin Siy summarizes the House Stop Online Piracy Act and illustrates the far-reaching provisions in the bill.  Sherwin explains how the House bill fundamentally changes who could face liability for copyright infringement.

“SOPA and Section 1201: A Frightening Combination” – Jodie Griffin
Public Knowledge Staff Attorney Jodie Griffin writes a thorough analysis of how the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in conjunction with section 1201 of the Copyright Act creates an “ever-expanding net of liability” that could target individuals who are not infringing or even assisting copyright infringers.  Additionally, Jodi explains how SOPA increases the risk for technology developers to come under attack from private parties without preliminary court hearings and provides recent examples.

“Copyright Does Not Trump Disability Rights Law” – Jodie Griffin
Jodie Griffin blogs about how the SOPA bill could pose a threat to closed captioning services by alleging copyright infringement, even though closed captioning is a fairuse.  Additionally, Jodi gives two recent examples of how copyright owners would be able to invoke SOPA based off of unsupported legal conclusions.

“SOPA and the DMCA Safe Harbors” – Rashmi Rangnath
Rashmi Rangnath writes about the provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that exempt certain content hosts from being held liable for their users infringing activities.  Rashmi also explains how the SOPA bill would undermine the provisions of the DMCA and which actors wouldsuffer the consequences from those new regulatory provisions.

“SOPA: Immunity for Net Neutrality Violations?” – Sherwin Siy
PK Deputy Legal Director Sherwin Siy discusses how the SOPA bill would provide a blanket immunity for almost anyone who cuts off a targeted site and how this immunity could be used by ISPs to circumvent net neutrality rules.

The above links were compiled by:

Michael Weinberg
Staff Attorney
Public Knowledge

24 Responses to “Statement Against SOPA”

  1. Stefano Black

    This is great! Is it possible to specify for readers which link(s) is the action link? I ask this since the amendment agreed on at GA was for the statement to include links to direct action – which this does, but I’d like it to be 100% clear to readers who already know the facts and are just interested in the action link.

  2. Nate Mantell

    Yeah consider the benefits of free information and what the goal we should be trying to achieve by creating media and information is.

    Is it more profitable to force people to give wealth to media creators to to get the most information out to the biggest amount of people to facilitate learning and the exchange of ideas?

  3. jarret wolfman

    was this actually passed by the g.a.? not that i’m against it. i’m just curious. i don’t see any reference to that in the text. or am i able to find anything about it in the proposals section of the site. what’s up?

  4. Darrell Prince

    Twinkles on Jarret’s comment…. the only official statement by the GA as far as I know is

    This past week, the Senate and the House have passed the Defense Authorization act. This act brands civil disobedience and protest as acts of terrorism. Under this bill, the military could at anytime grab Americans and hold them forever without trial for the suspicion of planning civil disobedience actions. This bil is illegal and unconstitutional on several dimensions:
    1. it removes posse comitus, meaning that the military cn act on US soil to arrest Americans
    2. It allows for indefinite detention without trial, violating the American right to a fair trial
    3. It violates the right to free speech and freedom of press by making dissenting voices illegal

    As it stands the best hope for maintaining our freedoms is the veto of this illegal, unconstitutional bill. We at Occupy Wall Street call on the President to uphold his inaugural oath to defend the Constitution as well as honoring his promise to veto this illegal, unconstituional bill.

  5. Say No To Anarchy

    This is just another example of how an outside group is seeking to co-opt Occupy Wallstreet Movement. One of the most powerful anarchist groups that are here and taking control are the CYPHERPUNKS. They seek to gain the most protections and secrecy for themselves, but are the very cyber experts that know how to break into YOUR computer systems. They fight any legislation that would allow law inforcement to protect YOU and others against things like child pornographers, illegal gambling syndicates, and most of all, crimnals like themselves. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE DIVERTING THE GOALS OF OW! ALong with other anarchist groups, They have taken over my local occupation. And guess what they are protesting right now: the army officer who released government and military secrets to Wikileaks. While you may like the fact that that happened, trying to get the guy out of prision should not be the focus of Occupy Wallstreet. Neither should defeating this bill be! The point of OW isn’t suppose to be to dismantle the government, but make sound changes to our democracy. DON’T ALLOW THE ANARCHISTS TO TAKE OVER!

    • Robert

      This is not about anarchy but about poorly written bills that can and will be abused to limit what we can see on the internet. These bills are being rammed through congress by congressmen (Dems and GOPs) who are being paid by corporate interests.

    • Dallas

      Cypherpunks made it easy to encrypt my IMs. What has “Say No to Anarchy” done for my privacy?

  6. Sally Marks

    I’d like to see some feedback from the artists whose intellectual property is being protected by these acts before I rally against them.

    Back in my day, we bought the album, you made a cassette recording, perhaps a friend did too. On Sunday nights (from my poor memory) , Allison Steele – The Night Bird(???) would play an album, both sides, no commercial or voice interruptions. Everyone would record the album. After a few months, the cassette recording would degrade into a poor rendition, basically sound like an iPod. The artists lost some money though all of this but there was little they could do. At least it was not a case of one kid buying an album, copying it 1,000,000 times.
    Now it is one person getting a digital copy, posting it on the internet and every person in the world having the ability to get a copy for no remuneration to the artist.
    Could you imagine working on something for a year or more only to find someone stole it?

    So for me to get behind something like this requires more information and most certainly, backing of the artists who stand to loose their livelihood. I also think this is small potatoes compared to the bigger picture that OWS is supposed to be fighting. WE cannot put out a million tiny fires, we must remain focused and vigilant on the big ones.

  7. marc ribot

    Sally Marks wrote:
    >I’d like to see some feedback from the artists whose intellectual property is being >protected by these acts before I rally against them.

    To Sally Marks:
    thank you so much for asking. I’m a musician and composer. My industry has collapsed- income has shrunk by over 60% over the last 15 years- due to illegal downloading. Many tens of thousands of working musicians, producers, tech people, composers, songwriters, etc etc have been forced out of jobs/careers or impoverished due to this fact.
    This disaster by NO means effects only the ‘major labels’: mom and pop indies were the first to go.

    The GA statement seems to take the position of ‘copyleft’ groups which oppose the existence of copyright laws.
    This is understandable: people like to get stuff for free. But i always thought the term ‘left’ had something to do with the empowerment of workers. SOPA is supported by the unions and trade groups representing musicians, composers, film industry people, and writers, including my own union, local 802 of the AFM (which, incidentally, supports OWS and has called out its members repeatedly for OWS actions).
    Many ordinary musicians also support copyright protections- although we are often afraid to speak out for fear of being targeted for boycott by its apparently very well funded opponents.
    (Some speak out anyway. check out Gillian Welch’s beautiful tune “Everything is free now”.)

    The GA statement notes the anti-SOPA position of:
    “Civil rights groups, leading technology companies, and hundreds of law professors and lawyers.”
    I don’t think OWS should base our position on the views of “hundreds of lawyers and Law professors”- particularly since other hundreds support SOPA (indeed, wrote it).
    And since when does OWS act in solidarity with “leading technology companies”????
    SAY WHAT???? I thought these were the 1% we were against.

    I found no ‘civil rights’ groups which oppose SOPA. The ACLU, a civil liberties group, does oppose it. But the ACLU’s position is more nuanced than the GA’s- it recognizes musicians’ rights to get paid for the product of our labor:

    ” it’s important to protect copyrighted material online…Congress should focus not just on the goal of protecting copyright owners, but also protecting the speech rights of consumers.

    I think the ACLU has a valid point: the SOPA ‘collateral damage’ problem is real. Perhaps SOPA can be amended. Or perhaps, if SOPA was passed, those websites making hundreds of millions off advertising might find it in their interests to fund the development of a technical solution to this problem.

    Hey, in France, they simply cut the internet access of anyone who downloads copyrighted material more than 3 times.

    I’m also open to more radical solutions: if OWS wants to recreate music, film and writing as ‘public utilities’, and pay all of us salaries for the work we do, like in Cuba, well then: “Estoy Presente, companeros!

    There are many possible solutions: but in the meantime, we still need to pay our rents.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of Intellectual Property law as it now stands: terms are no doubt too long, and exceptions need to be made in cases of urgent public need- like the copyrights on life saving medications.

    But i’m troubled by a process in which an OWS position was taken on an issue effecting my industry without apparent regard for the interests of me and my fellow workers, acknowledgement of the problems facing us, or consultation with the organizations representing us. I don’t know about ‘hundreds of lawyers” or “leading technology companies”. But one thing for sure: there is no 99% without workers.

    • Jorge Caneda

      “My industry has collapsed- income has shrunk by over 60% over the last 15 years- due to illegal downloading.”

      I do not think the ” collapse” of the music industry bubble is due only (nor mainly) to “illegal downloading”. Other significant factors: 1. the use of computers and digital musical equipment has increased the number of ” composers” exponentially, there is enormous competition from people willing to work for very little in an industry were the bottom_line is queen.
      2. Electronic media and systems allow for very cheap and quick canned music to be produced.
      3. The inevitable process of monopoly consolidation in the industry has narrowed the market.
      I can think of these elements of the top. I can imagine others could come up with more.

  8. Robert

    I support the rights of artists to make a living of off their creations but I strongly disapprove of the bills that want to censor the internet. These bills are poorly written and will do more harm than good. Congress has no clue when it comes to the internet, they are happy to let corporate interests (music labels and movie studios) write the bills for them and then pay them off to pass the bills.

    From an article on zdnet:

    The sad part is that these congress-people are representing the entertainment industry’s interest for chump change. According to a report by the Knight-Batten Award-winning nonprofit MAPLight, the 32 sponsors of the bill received just under $2 million in campaign contributions from the movie, music, and TV entertainment industries.

    To put that in perspective, this weekend’s box office take for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (you can’t make this stuff up) took in $23 million in just one weekend. So, for less than a tenth of the take from Alvin and the Chipmunks, our congress-critters have let themselves be influenced by a historically and unendingly regressive group of trade organizations.

    By the way, if you calculate up the contributions the tech industry has made to these same 32 “lawmakers,” you’ll find the total to be $524,977 — one fourth the amount contributed by the entertainment industry.

    Despite all the cries from tech experts throughout the United States, Congress is still doing its best to pass SOPA. Is there a correlation? Are our elected representatives paying four times more attention to the entertainment industry compared to us in technology? You be the judge.

    By the way, don’t forget a few other stories I recently ran about SOPA, including how the bill’s architects suddenly found themselves employed in cushy positions by the lobbying groups behind SOPA.

    I’m not saying we’re being sold out for mere chump change. But I am saying that each time we look at this bill, we find something else that just ain’t right.

  9. Urbaned

    OWS must be careful about its endorsements as it evolves and becomes enmeshed into society. It was good to read @marc ribot’s viewpoints about SOPA here, and I hope in terms of OWS’s value of transparency, he feels adequately heard. In terms of endorsing external organizations, I have added a suggestion here: (Urbaned)

    If you think it’s important, please vote it up. Thanks!

  10. batman

    well written and i agree 100%. as an artist myself, i have avoided the ‘corporate path’ and have made my music available freely. i try to make up for that via live shows and merch. i gladly trade my so called rights to my work in order to support free speech over the internet. not that i see that as a prereq, or mutually exclusive, but i see some have questioned how artists feel about this.

  11. James Hanaburgh

    The SOPA bill will not stop piracy, anyway. Tech savvy pirates have already found ways to avoid getting caught. The reason to oppose this bill is because it enforces poorly.
    Too many casual users will pay hefty fines for things they have limited involvement in– and heavy uploaders/downloaders will have found ways to skirt the restrictions.
    Badly, badly written piece of legislation- written by people who know little about the way the internet actually works.
    They should ask the cops how they handle those little Chinese women who sell pirate DVDs on Canal Street… does arresting them stop the pirate manufacture? NO…

  12. Vinson Valega

    Yup – Marc Ribot hit the nail on the head! A “smart” SOPA should be backed by OWS, as content-creators need to get paid for our services and creativity. It’s hard enough to compete with “free,” and although this iteration of SOPA is probably heavy-handed and won’t pass imho, OWS should be backing legislation that HELPS working artists.

    The world is full of corporations that aren’t going anywhere fast, and so we cannot be blindly “against” all corporations. We need to support legislation that controls their power and protects workers’ rights – including the musicians and artists and dancers and writers in the world.

    If there were one message OWS should be backing completely and constantly, it’s! Go here and sign the petition. By amending the Constitution, you’d cut out 90% of these issues, where corporate power has corrupted our society –>