Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Law Professors' Letter to Congress about PROTECT-IP Act

Over 100 professors who teach and write about intellectual property, Internet law, innovation, and the First Amendment have sent a letter to Congress asking it to reject the so-called PROTECT-IP Act.  (I say "so-called" because the acronym for the Act is highly misleading.)   As reported by Stanford Law School:
The professors have signed onto a letter written by Stanford Law School’s Mark A. Lemley, the William H. Neukom Professor of Law and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology; David Levine,  assistant professor of Law at Elon University School of Law and an affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society (CIS); and David Post, professor of law at the Temple University Beasley School of Law. The letter outlines the group’s concerns that the bill, as proposed, is unconstitutional and potentially disastrous to the structure of the Internet and to U.S. thought leadership.

The letter is well worth reading.  It makes three main points: (1) the Act violates the First Amendment by suppressing speech without a hearing; (2) it threatens to break the Internet's infrastructure (a technical explanation of that problem is here); and (3) it undermines the USA's leadership in promoting free speech and the free exchange of information on the Internet.

Both the N.Y. Times and the L.A. Times have published editorials criticizing the Act as it's presently worded.  A group of venture capitalists have also voiced their concerns.

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