|Congresswoman Pingree opposes SOPA|
|Wednesday, January 18, 2012|
Bill would stifle innovation and lead to censorship
On a day when websites like Wikipedia are "going dark" to protest a bill now before the U.S. House, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said the real effect of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would be to stifle innovation and would likely lead to censorship of websites.
"This proposal is supposed to stop online piracy but the bill is so vaguely worded that the result could be quite different," Pingree said. "All a big entertainment or Internet company would have to do is claim that a website is somehow linked to piracy and it would immediately be blocked and censored."
The bill would allow content owners to prevent users from going to a website they claim is engaged in piracy. That means a movie studio or record label could block a website just by sending a letter to anInternet Service Provider claiming that piracy is occurring, without actually having to prove anything.
"A big media company could effectively shut down a website without ever going to court or appearing before a judge," Pingree said. "Just imagine the chilling effect that would have. The Internet was built on openness and innovation, not censorship."
Pingree also criticized the harsh penalties included in the legislation.
"The way this bill is written, you could face up to five years in prison just for posting a video of your child singing a pop song," she said.
In the U.S. Senate, a similar proposal—the Protect IP Act (PIPA)—may come up for a vote as early as next week.