Mozilla Fights for the Internet’s Future

Alex Fowler

84

Starting at midnight, Mozilla will join other leading Internet companies, public interest groups and citizens in opposing The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives. We’re censoring the Mozilla logo on many of our web sites as part of American Censorship Day and we sent Congressional leaders a joint letter together with AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo!, and Zynga raising our concerns with the bill.

This marks the first time we’ve come together with these giants of the Internet on any policy issue. The decision to inform legislators and users of our serious reservations with SOPA was a no-brainer and fell into place quickly over just a few days of discussion. We believe The Stop Online Piracy Act threatens our ability as an industry to continue to offer our many important software and web services to the hundreds of millions of users who rely on them, as well as the many employees and developers we support to innovate these technologies.

For Mozilla, we see this as a fight for the future of the Internet. Mozilla’s General Counsel, Harvey Anderson, blogged a few days ago that if the legislation were to pass into law it would likely chill free expression online, expose Internet users and companies to undue liability, be abused by plaintiffs, and still ultimately fail in its goal to thwart piracy.

We encourage you to take action today and tell your Congressional representatives how you feel about SOPA!

Here’s a copy of our letter to Congressional leaders:

Dear Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Conyers:

The undersigned Internet and technology companies write to express our concern with legislative measures that have been introduced in the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives, S. 968 (the “PROTECT IP Act”) and H.R. 3261 (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”).

We support the bills’ stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign “rogue” websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting.  Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.  We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.

One issue merits special attention. We are very concerned that the bills as written would seriously undermine the effective mechanism Congress enacted in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to provide a safe harbor for internet companies that act in good faith to remove infringing content from their sites.  Since their enactment in 1998, the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions for online service providers have been a cornerstone of the U.S. Internet and technology industry’s growth and success.  While we work together to find additional ways to target foreign rogue sites, we should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and Internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people create, find, discuss, and share information lawfully online.

We are proud to be part of an industry that has been crucial to U.S. economic growth and job creation. A recent McKinsey Global Institute Report found that the Internet accounts for 3.4 percent of GDP in the 13 countries that they studied, and, in the U.S., the Internet’s contribution to GDP is even larger. If Internet consumption and expenditure were a sector, its contribution to GDP would be bigger than energy, agriculture, communication, mining, or utilities. In addition, the Internet industry has increased productivity for small and medium-sized businesses by 10%.  We urge you not to risk either this success or the tremendous benefits these new platforms have brought to hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world.

We stand ready to work with the Congress to develop targeted solutions to addressing the problem of foreign rogue websites.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Sincerely,

AOL
eBay
Facebook
Google
LinkedIn
Mozilla
Twitter
Yahoo!
Zynga

Additional links to the bill and other commentary can be found below:

84 responses

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