Friday, November 18, 2011

Protect IP act is no protection

If the Protect IP Act becomes law, it will empower the Attorney General of the United States to blacklist websites without court review. This is like the chief of police of a local community deciding that a group of protesters should not be allowed to assemble in a local park because the local gas station asked the chief.

Many countries around the world allow their citizens to steal copyrighted material and sell it for a profit. China is the biggest abuser. Big corporations through their associations like the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians and others have petitioned congress for stricter laws preventing piracy. The act that is working it was through congress is called the Protect IP Act.

One of the provisions of the act would allow the United States Attorney General to blacklist sites that are suspected of piracy. With the big names mentioned above behind the law, the pressure on the Attorney General to block sites would be tremendous. But, he could do it without any judicial review. It would be his or her digression to block a site.

There is the possibility that sites could be blocked that may have an issue with one of the big corporations. Instead of spending their billions challenging the site in court, they could just pick up the phone and ask the Attorney General to take action. There is also a chance that sites could be blocked that are not politically aligned with the administration at the time. With no judicial review, the citizens of the community would have no way of making an informed judgment about the case.

This is clearly a freedom of speech issue.  If the site is on the wrong side of the law, then a simple court review would illustrate it.  Our judicial system is a way of checking the power of the congress and the president. This is a bad law for our community. The prevision about block sites should have judicial review.


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