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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.

Pierce Klaassen Pepler January 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I don't believe that Corporations are people. They are a business. Economic growth is essential for all countries. However when the internet we know and love is threatened by a government that puts businesses and corporate funded pocket books over the basic human right of free speech something needs to be done about it. The Chinese government knows that it is a waste of time to track down a pirate. The internet is also known as the World Wide Web. Its World Wide! If the world's most powerful government thinks they have the right to stop the internet and domain names because of a few lost dollars from a stolen song or movie. Stats show that people that pirate a song are more likely to go buy the CD later. The internet is a complex world. One that knows no limit. Martin Luther King said, "Our lives begin to end the day we stop caring about the things that matter". The more blocks the government puts up the faster we find away around them. if they sensor creativity today the world will buck and fight back. Didn't the Government watch the Arab world over throw their government all spurred on and magnified by the internet? Nelson Mandela said, "when a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” And soon we will all be outlaws if SOPA or PIPA passes.
Deb C January 18, 2012 at 07:38 PM
As an artist, nothing irritates me more than those that think they can use my art for their own purposes. If it's not your song, photo & other art, blog, writing, video, gif, website, trademark, dance and a list of other creative endeavors... DO NOT use it on your website, blog, forums, etc., DO NOT email it, post it to facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and other social media, post it in photo storing websites such as Flicker, etc. If it's not yours, keep your hands off! However, I don't support this bill. Copyright & priacy can be policed by those that are involved directly. My website hosting provides an online monitoring system where I can check who has been on my website, what they did, how long they were there, what they looked at, what they downloaded and where they are from. For several years, people in China have been on my site looking for something to snag, steal, copy, etc. But I have resolved the issue by posting photos that are not high quality, therefore unusable. I also can block IP addresses. Now before blaming the Chinese, understand that there are American companies who pay the people in China for copywrited material to use in their products. There was a case a few years back, where a well known retailer used a photographers photo that had been snagged from the photographers website. It was snagged by the Chinese, which were hired by the American retailer, who then changed it to a b&w photo and printed it on pillows, which than were sold. Major lawsuit!
Deb C January 18, 2012 at 07:48 PM
There are a number of websites here in the USA, who have membership here in the USA, who have people in the USA, who browse the internet for violaters and infringers. These online communities have grown in the last few years and do a fantastic job in policing. Here are the supporters of the bills: RIAA, MPAA, News Corp, TimeWarner, Walmart, Nike, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, ABC, Dow Chemical, Monster Cable, Teamsters. Those that oppose: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch. BTW, the bill can't be revised, it needs to be defeated.
Roy Brophy January 18, 2012 at 10:33 PM
When Corporate profits are measured against peoples rights, people should win, but not with our senators. Amy is a standard issue pol so she going to go with the money. But Al has been talking left and voting rightsincee he hit Washington, He voted to extend tax cut for himself and other rich guys, he voted for theEthanollboondogglee that only helps the big AgCorporationss and now he's more worried aboutHollywoodd profits than the bill of rights. I'm a disabled Vietnam Vet, Al and I got our education at the same time: He at Harvard and me at Khe Sanh. I didn't think I was fighting for Corporations, but I was just a dumb Grunt
Michael Rose (Editor) January 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM
@Andrew - Your comment was deleted due to the obscene content found in your links. You're welcome to post again without those links.
Emily B January 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I don't get how Al can support net neutrality, but then support PIPA. Isn't it, more or less, two sides of the same coin? Either issue the general public loses at the gain of corporate entities.
James Sanna (Editor) 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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