Friday, January 20, 2012

Shamelessly crib this anti-SOPA letter, and send it to your congressional reps

My friend wrote a nuanced letter to his congressional rep opposing the SOPA bill, and I'm sharing it with you all so you can send something similar to yours, or to just copy it outright. It's good.

Enjoy. (And in case you need it, here's how to find your rep.)

Hello X,

As a resident in your district, a law-abiding and tax-paying US citizen, a small business entrepreneur and an experienced professional in the fields of technology and media, I would like to add my voice to the millions of others who oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act as it is currently structured, and I strenuously request that you reconsider your support for this bill. I understand that you have received much financial support from entities which support the bill, no doubt motivated by their own short/term financial best interests, but as a servant of the people, I ask that you throw out consideration of the big media lobby (i.e. Hollywood) and simply do what is right, for the people and businesses of the great state of California and the country as a whole.

The truth is that our nation has undergone an incredible amount of new regulation in the past 10 years. From efforts to prevent economic mistakes of the past to those which ostensibly target “terrorism,” the powers of the federal government have been systematically expanded since the turn of the millennium.  While many individual bills have been merited, when taken together as a whole, it is difficult to argue that the US federal government has gained increased capacity to limit or postpone traditional American freedoms. SOPA is another entry into this new trend of restriction at the hands of an increasingly autocratic government. Unfortunately, the casualties of this trend are in many cases those entities which we need most to keep this country strong, innovative, informed and moving forward.

While I do not support copyright infringement and I am a firm believer in the just protection of intellectual property, I readily acknowledge that the problem is one of complexity and nuance. The battle against piracy, plagiarism and theft of art is better fought with a well-placed scalpel than the broad-faced hatchet of threats, blanket restrictions and blatant censorship that encompass the proposed SOPA legislation. While its heart might be in the right place, the true implications of SOPA could be catastrophic to businesses and artistic endeavors both here and abroad. And while it may deter some bad people from doing a few bad things, it will undoubtedly deter many good people from doing great things, and contribute to a further weakening of our ailing economy while cutting another rent into our once limitless store of international soft power (i.e. the influence of American artwork, brands and business savvy all across the globe).

Would we give up just a little of this great legacy of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation in exchange for a few intellectual thieves behind bars and a bit more money in the hands of some of the world’s most bloated, regressive enterprises? My guess is our founding fathers would be ashamed of any kind of support for this bill. And so should you.

Thanks for your time,

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