There are three bills in Congress now that if passed, will change the way that both site owners and users utilize the Internet! Your rights to speak freely, express your opinions and do business online are in jeopardy. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R.3261 and the E-PARASITE (Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation) Act, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Congressman Lamar Smith a Texas Republican from the 21st district, as well as twelve other Democrats and Republicans.
This is by far the most dangerous legislation ever put forth concerning the Internet and the way we use it. American Censorship has a clear and concise description of what these new bills would do if made into law. Here is what they say in a nutshell, then I will put my spin on it to help protect the hundreds of real estate agents and other online entrepreneurs that I service.
- Website Blocking - The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.
- Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users – It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.
- Chaos for the Internet – Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the Internet more secure wouldn’t be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.
Item 2 is the one that we need to explore. Anytime that an agents website is displaying homes that they do not “OWN” are subject to this interpratation. After all a home is worth more than $2500.00 and if another agent or the MLS have the rights to that data, you are liable to prosecution. The lobbyists may say, “this is meant for piracy of music or videos, or software, or intellectual property, not real estate!”
If I go to a house for sale and compile UNIQUE information about it and publish it on my website, by rights, that information about the home for sale, is MY intellectual property, as is the photographs I take of it. If your Diverse Solutions, IDX Broker, iHomefinder, etc. IDX provider displays that information on a website other than mine, I can have you criminally prosecuted, if this law is enacted.
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust my competitors to not take advantage of this situation with frivolous lawsuits that will only drain the civil and criminal courts that our tax dollars pay for. In 1776 this country was founded on the inarguable rights to freedom of speech, religion and many others. We all learned about the Bill of Rights in elementary school, but it really should have been called the Bill of Responsibilities! WE are the citizens that control the government! Am I naive? To an extent, yes I am, I feel my fellow citizens care as I do about this country and what it stands for. If we do nothing, than the fat cats and top dogs own the zoo. It would be our own fault.
Stop the madness now, and let your representatives know that they will NOT be re-elected if they vote for these blatant censorship bills. No matter what special interest groups may promise your politicians in funding, it all revolves around YOUR vote. Don’t sit back now and be an arm-chair American. Contact your Congressman via phone, email, letter, etc. everything that you need to know is below.
Sample email or letter to send:
I am a constituent and I urge you to reject the Internet Blacklist Bills (PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House). I do *not* want the government to have the power to block websites. The Internet Blacklist bill will open the sites I love to crushing lawsuits, and kill jobs in the tech sector. I urge you to join Senator Wyden and other members of Congress in opposing it.
Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
REACTIONS TO THIS BILL, “SOPA” H.R.3261
These bills were written by the content industry without any input from the technology industry. And they are trying to fast track them through congress and into law without any negotiation with the technology industry.
SOPA, regrettably, represents a big step backward in Washington’s efforts to support the digital revolution, one of the only sectors of the economy that continues to grow.
[SOPA would] overturn the long-accepted principles and practices [of the DMCA] in favor of a one-sided enforcement mechanism that is far more broad than existing law while not attempting to protect the rights of anyone accused of copyright infringement.
It contains provisions that will chill innovation. It contains provisions that will tinker with the fundamental fabric of the internet. It gives private corporations the power to censor. And best of all, it bypasses due legal process to do much of it.
The main “enforcement” mechanism in these bills is to put liability on third party service providers coming from the tech industry, undermining the safe harbors of the DMCA and the legal framework that has allowed tons of important internet platforms to evolve.
This is a move that threatens, rather than protects, property rights, and also threatens America’s Internet and tech leadership.