"Dear Kenneth:

Thank you for contacting me about intellectual property legislation. I appreciate hearing from you.

I have heard from constituents on every side of this issue who are concerned about Internet freedom and intellectual property rights. This issue is very important and extremely complex. There are several bills under consideration by Congress that address online intellectual property protections, but none have my support at this time.

The PROTECT IP Act (S. 968) would allow the U.S. Attorney General or any intellectual-property owner to take legal action against individuals associated with an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities (ISDIA). An ISDIA is defined as having no significant purpose other than engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement. S. 968 would also facilitate legal proceedings taken by the Attorney General and the Department of Justice against foreign nationals that are associated with delinquent domain names that harm American Internet users.

The House companion bill to S. 968, the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) or SOPA, has similar goals and specifically targets foreign websites that use illegally copied American media. Another bill being considered in the Senate (S.978) strengthens copyright laws to allow for the prosecution of individuals breaking copyright if their public performances earn a profit of over $2,500.

A growing coalition of consumer and business groups have raised concerns about the unintended consequences of these bills. SOPA contains a provision that technology firms such as Google say could require Internet providers to monitor the online activity of their customers in order to block access to particular sites. This would place a significant burden on Internet providers and represent an unacceptable invasion of privacy.

In addition, opponents of SOPA and PROTECT IP argue the legislation grants the Department of Justice (DOJ) too much power. They suggest the bills grant DOJ authority to go beyond shutting down rogue websites and actually hold websites such as YouTube liable for illegal content posted on their sites. Companies that do business online worry this broad authority would expose them to expensive and unnecessary litigation. To address these concerns, Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA) and Senator Ron Wyden (OR) introduced the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. This bill would shift the jurisdiction of online infringement cases from the U.S. Attorney General to the International Trade Commission.

Congress must act to protect online intellectual property. Illegal content cannot be allowed to proliferate unchallenged on the Internet. However, I will oppose well-intentioned but poorly conceived legislation that threatens personal privacy, imposes unnecessary costs on Internet providers, and undermines open access to information on the web. Be assured I will keep your views in mind as debate on this issue continues.

Thank you again for contacting me.


Betty McCollum
Member of Congress"
Received in my inbox today. I guess she finally found the time to "catch up" after all of those phone calls and messages her office received. It's a small victory and she outright committed herself to voting against SOPA. This at least will be something to remind her of if/when the entertainment lobby gets Congress to start pushing for SOPA (or whatever they might re-name it) again.
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