I was on the brink of mindlessly clicking through the ACLU action center as usual to send an email opposing SOPA. But then I read their boilerplate text, and ended up cancelling the letter to my rep and instead sending this quick note to the ACLU:
Your SOPA suggested letter text supports current copyright law, and also backhandedly supports PIPA (the Senate version of the bill).
This is far too weak of a position. As a donor, I ask you to take a stronger position that current copyright law unjustly restricts free speech, and that no further enforcement measures should be instituted until that fundamental problem is addressed.
At least take on BOTH of these bills strongly. Most of the significant Internet is blacked out today to oppose both bills -- why would you cede so much ground to copyright maximalists? We have the support to oppose and defeat both bills.
For reference, here was their text:
While I believe it's important to protect copyrighted material online, the language of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is flawed and will lead to the blocking of lawful content.
Unlike the Senate version of the bill, SOPA eliminates the concept of sites 'dedicated to infringing activity' and enables law enforcement to target all sites that contain some infringing content -- no matter how trivial. The potential for impact on non-infringing content is much greater under SOPA than under other versions of this bill. Sites with user-generated content, like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, would be especially vulnerable, as one small piece of infringing content could lead to blocking the entire site.
Even though proposed changes would narrow the amount of lawful content impacted, the changes don't go far enough. It is still likely that search engines will end up blocking access to perfectly legal online content.
Congress should focus not just on the goal of protecting copyright owners, but also protecting the speech rights of consumers and providers who are reading and producing wholly non-infringing content. Congress must eliminate the collateral damage to protected non-infringing content. Only in that way will Congress truly achieve its goal of protecting authors while respecting the constitutional right to free speech.
Maybe I'm overreacting, but I dislike it when good organizations take weak positions unnecessarily. Usually this is not a problem with the ACLU, for me. It doesn't help that I keep seeing this meme everywhere in the anti-SOPA/PIPA conversation: "I agree we need to do something about piracy, but not this..."
I don't think we need to do anything to fix violations of an extraordinarily unjust law until the law itself is fixed. I don't find that to be a very radical position.