SOPA has another detractor today and it's a bit of a surprise to everyone: the Online News Association. ONA has officially come out against both SOPA and PIPA, saying that both bills do very little to fight piracy. The group issued an open letter on its site pointing out the multitude of flaws these bills have and the troubles they will inevitably cause to the Internet. From the letter:
"[W]e believe SOPA would do little to stem those problems and would actually cause harm to the Internet and to the American public.
Indeed, the act — and its counterpart in the Senate, the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) — would inappropriately shut down websites, disrupt the free flow of legitimate information and limit Americans from fully exercising their First Amendment rights. "
The letter goes on to highlight some of the problems these bills will create including overblocking:
"Forcing payment services and ad networks to mete out punishment raises a host of concerns. For starters, SOPA stipulates that any payment service or ad network that fails to comply with a notice served by the copyright owner and based on the court order can be sued for damages and held liable. On the other hand, any service that cuts ties with a suspected site after receiving notice of a court order, may not be sued for damages by that site “for any acts reasonably designed to comply” with the order.
It’s not hard to imagine, then, that a service provider, acting with abundance of caution and out of its own self-interest, will simply cut off services to entire sites that have been accused of infringement, even if the court order only applies to portion of the site. Such actions could even extend to other sites owned by the same entity."
You can read the entire letter here.
This is bad news for supporters of the bill, because ONA represents the concerns of online journalists. Its board members include executives from ESPN Digital Media, MSN UK, Yahoo!, Scene Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, CNN Digital, Bloomberg Government, and more.