Congressman Jim Himes on SOPA

December 9, 2011 -

While we're likely not going to post every letter we get from readers who receive some sort of response from their elected representatives concerning SOPA and Protect IP, the following response received by ECA president Hal Halpin from congressmen Jim Himes (D- Connecticut’s 4th District) is worth reading - only because it strikes a balance between thinking free speech and rights (like due process and fair use) should be protected with copyright holders' interests.

Sure, it's probably a form-letter response written by an intern or a junior staffer (and it contains some language we’d expect to come out of the mouth of a lobbyist representing Hollywood), but at least Himes is talking the measured and reasonable talk. Read the response letter below in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Halpin,

Thank you for contacting me about issues related to internet safety and internet protocol (IP) protections. I appreciate your comments and am grateful that you took the time to contact me.

Currently, there are a number of bills in Congress that aim to address safe internet practices and copyright issues as they relate to web usage. Everyone knows that the Internet harbors bad faith actors who infringe upon U.S. copyrights. Often located offshore, these operators target American consumers and facilitate transactions using the services of search engines, advertising networks, and credit card companies. While reasonable protections are in place for taking down rogue websites or content hosted within the United States, it is less clear to lawmakers how to regulate this type of activity when it originates offshore.

Among the various pieces of legislation targeting this type of illegal activity, H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has generated the most intense debate, with active advocacy groups on both sides of the bill. SOPA would allow the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign websites that steal and sell American innovations and products. The bill increases criminal penalties for individuals who traffic in counterfeit medicine and military goods and increases coordination between IP enforcement agencies in the United States.

Proponents of SOPA, including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, believe that the bill protects American jobs and American intellectual property, in this case, content that illegally appears on the internet. To these parties, online content theft means declining incomes, reduced health and retirement benefits, and lost jobs.

Opponents of the bill support SOPA's stated goal of providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign rogue websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement and counterfeiting, but do not support the bill as written, believing that it would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that could require monitoring of web sites and social media. These groups, which include Google, Facebook, AOL, Twitter and Yahoo, are concerned that the bill sets a precedent in favor of Internet censorship and could jeopardize our nation's cybersecurity.

I agree that while the bill may be well intentioned, we need to do more to ensure that this legislation does not expose companies to new liabilities or infringe upon Americans' first amendment rights, or threaten the vitality of the internet.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SOPA on November 16, 2011, with witnesses testifying on behalf of both the content providers and the search engines. While I do not sit on this Committee, I followed this hearing closely as I understand how important both internet safety and freedom of speech issues are to my constituents. I will continue to follow this matter, and will be certain to keep your views in mind when this bill, and others like it, come before the full House of Representatives for a vote.

If you have any additional questions regarding this or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact my office. You can sign up for my newsletter and find more information on my views and my work in Congress by visiting my official website at himes.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Jim Himes
Member of Congress

Let's all hope that more members of congress are thinking the way Himes is about our rights online, and let's also hope that Himes will walk-the-walk to match that talk when it comes time to make a decision on this or any other bill related to this hot-button issue.


Comments

Re: Congressman Jim Himes on SOPA

Yea.

My congresscritters, Schumer, Gillibrand and Gary Ackerman all have sent me form letters basically saying they're 100% behind SOPA and/or Protect-IP.

Douches.

Re: Congressman Jim Himes on SOPA

I wonder how much they were paid to be.

 
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InfophileAdobe: "Adobe sent Ars an e-mail that said, "Please read our Twitter response to this matter.""... You do realize Twitter isn't the best platform for an official response, right?10/22/2014 - 4:23am
Technogeekprh99: Gamergate and Adobe deserve each other.10/22/2014 - 2:55am
Andrew EisenAdam McKay directed cartoon about income inequality. https://screen.yahoo.com/we-the-economy/inequality-1-unbelievable-sweet-alpacas-175411663.html10/21/2014 - 8:54pm
prh99Bit.ly Maintainance here is the original http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/10/after-gamergate-tweet-adobe-distances-itself-from-gawker-bullying/10/21/2014 - 8:39pm
prh99Adobe calls out Gawker for GG bullying and backpedals...sort of. http://bit.ly/1pyM4Yg10/21/2014 - 8:35pm
Neo_DrKefkaThanks James. Means a lot.10/21/2014 - 7:24pm
prh99Nothing that hasn't been said.10/21/2014 - 6:52pm
Andrew EisenHaven't read it yet. I'm sharing this because I love the header image. http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/10/gamergate-should-stop-lying-to-itself.html10/21/2014 - 3:39pm
james_fudgeYou are one of us, you're a GPer, not a GGer :)10/21/2014 - 2:27pm
james_fudgeNeo_DrKefka: half of them don't know who that is, so no worries :)10/21/2014 - 2:27pm
Andrew EisenUpdate to the Paranautical Activity story. Dev leaves the studio. http://codeavarice.com/post/100592709238/mike-is-leaving-code-avarice10/21/2014 - 1:52pm
quiknkoldI'm sure you are, Andrew10/21/2014 - 1:44pm
Andrew EisenNintendo announced the Link amiibo is compatible with Hyrule Warriors. No idea how Nintendo expects anyone to give a toss if it don't tell us what it does. Then again, maybe I'm just being curmudgeonly.10/21/2014 - 1:25pm
Neo_DrKefkaSo Gamergate compared me to leftist Saul Alnsky....ME off all the people10/21/2014 - 1:16pm
IanCWell.... quite.10/21/2014 - 1:10pm
Andrew EisenWell of course. Girls don't buy figurines and guys don't buy figurines of girls. And no, the girls that buy figurines and the guys that buy figurines of girls don't count. The money belongs on the table, thank you very much!10/21/2014 - 12:43pm
IanCI have 3 of the Disney Infinity figures even though i don't have the game (Rapunzel from Tangled, and Anna & Elsa from Frozen, purely because its the only way to get figures from those two films)10/21/2014 - 12:23pm
Andrew EisenGlad you said "Pokemon." That's the first time I've seen anyone use that abbreviation.10/21/2014 - 12:14pm
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