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Ellison Opposes SOPA, PIPA With Website Blackout

The congressman says the bills would harm Internet innovation and jobs.

The campaign website for Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was among roughly 10,000 websites that went dark Wednesday in opposition to two online anti-piracy bills.

Ellison says the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) would "devastate free speech, Internet innovation, and job creation. I strongly oppose these bills and believe there are better ways to fight piracy without infringing upon Americans' right to free speech."

No Minnesota representatives have signed on to the legislation in the House, though Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are among PIPA's co-sponsors.

The House bill, SOPA, and its Senate counterpart, PIPA, are designed to make it harder for websites to sell or distribute pirated copyrighted material, such as movies and music. According to a Forbes report, many of the bills' opponents applaud the intentions of the legislation but fear it might have an adverse effect on Web freedom and innovation.

That's because the bills could allow the U.S. Attorney General to seek a court order to require “a service provider (to) take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access" to a violating site, though the Obama administration has shown opposition to this measure, Forbes reports. At the very least, the legislation could force search engines like Google to block links to certain sites. CBS News has a good, detailed breakdown of what the legislation entails, and who is supporting and opposing it.

Wikipedia is perhaps the most noteworthy site participating in Wednesday's blackout opposition to the bills. The online encyclopedia's home page is black with the phrase, "Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge" posted. Google is still operational, though a black bar over its logo indicates the site's opposition to the perceived censorship.

Patch and AOL (which owns Patch) are not participating in the blackout. In a statement, Tekedra N. Mawakana, AOL's senior vice president of public policy, said:

"As [SOPA and PIPA are] written, we cannot support the bills. We believe an open Internet is critical for innovation, job creation and the sustained growth of Internet businesses. We are in the process of working directly with lawmakers to improve the bills."

AOL has joined with other large tech companies such as eBay, Facebook and LinkedIn in filing a formal complaint in the form of a letter.

Ellison Opponent Criticizes Blackout

Chris Fields, who is vying for the Republican nomination in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District and a chance to unseat Ellison, called the representative's website blackout "childish" in a press release.

You read Fields' full statement here.

James Sanna January 19, 2012 at 01:43 AM
@Emily B That's a good question. We'll let you know if we hear more about it from Franken.
strangedub January 19, 2012 at 05:40 AM
The legislation is draconian and essentially unenforceable. The onus would fall on all ISP (and other websites that allow user input) to comb through everything and take down any/all media that did not have copyright or other permission. Any site that did not do this thoroughly enough could be taken down -- not just some page removed, but a site stopped in its tracks. The courts would be filled with cases arguing about this... OH yeah, and all the sites outside the U.S. would be unaffected. Could you see a new FacePage.co.ru taking the place of FaceBook??
ellenlangsetmo January 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM
we defenatly should not censer the electronic media of any kind and we should instead try to reduce censership in general information in trade what ever.
Brie Shultz January 20, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Did you win the lawsuit?
Andrew Stergiou January 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM
The "obscene content" is the proper name of my blog I appreciate your censorship I have now added you to my list of internet censors and will soon write of how you collectively participate in harassing and bullying people. Frankly I consider your name "Rose" obscene as you stink.

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