Free Speech and the Future of the Internet: Not Congressman Goodlatte's Concern

Bob Goodlatte, currently representing the 6th District of Virginia, is so worried about piracy that he would block users' access to entire websites accused of hosting one instance of copyright infringement.

In effect, under Bob Goodlatte's law, a foreign website must be shut down - simply on an accusation. Under Section 103 of Bob Goodlatte's law, any site could be targeted with abusive takedown notices without any court involvement. And under Section 104, entire domains would disappear from the Internet based on a "reasonable belief that the Internet site is a foreign infringing site"- backed by the power of the US government.

Even if the infringing content was only a small part of the site. Or there wasn't any actual infringing content at all - just a "reasonable belief" that the site had hosted infringing content or that the site operated "with the object of promoting" copyright infringement.

Proof? Legal oversight? A viable mechanism for dealing with false or mistaken notices?

Not Congressman Goodlatte's concern.

What will this mean for the Internet as we know it? What will happen to sites based on user information sharing? What about the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit unleashed by the web? Innovation?

Not Congressman Goodlatte's concern.

What is Rep. Goodlatte's concern? Techdirt writes: “The more you look at the details, the more you realize how this bill is an astounding wishlist of everything that the legacy entertainment gatekeepers have wanted in the law for decades and were unable to get.”

So Bob Goodlatte, a Congressman from Virginia, is doing the big movie studios' bidding.

Under Bob Goodlatte's law, the six major movie studios (and other big online advertisers, like big TV and music industry companies) could "cut off any website and get off scot free, so long as they can claim a “reasonable belief” that the site was infringing, or even just not doing enough to stop infringement."

Why is Bob Goodlatte supporting this legislation?

Over the course of his Congressional career, Bob Goodlatte has reported over $317,000 from Movie, TV and Music interests. Even though Bob Goodlatte doesn't need a lot of campaign funds. Bob Goodlatte represents a staunchly Republican part of Virginia. In fact, Bob Goodlatte often has no Democratic opposition at all in his re-election bids. For example, in 2010, the combined campaign expenses of Bob Goodlatte's two opponents was less than half of what Bob Goodlatte received from Movie, TV and Music interests that year alone.

Has movie studio money bought Bob Goodlatte's law?

If Bob Goodlatte's proposal were to become law, it would threaten the functioning, freedom, and economic potential of the Internet, but Bob Goodlatte's law would effectively short-circuit the legal system to give the big movie companies a fast-track to shutting down websites.

No comments:

Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.