|Wed Jan 18 2012 09:06:47|
eBay and Amazon Abstain from SOPA Protest Blackout
By: Ina Steiner
Several major sites including Google, Craigslist and Wikipedia are protesting legislation introduced into Congress known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by posting messages on their home pages, calling it a 1-day blackout. Craigslist's message includes a postscript to "corporate paymasters" to "KEEP THOSE CLAMMY HANDS OFF THE INTERNET."
Amazon and eBay sites are unchanged today. eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff told EcommerceBytes that eBay and PayPal's sites would remain fully functional today. Amazon spokesperson Mary Osako said, "As much as we dislike piracy, we strongly oppose SOPA in its current form."
However, eBay does oppose SOPA, as do most Internet companies. (GoDaddy was an exception and, after a boycott by users, was forced to change its position.) In November, eBay joined AOL, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga in writing a letter protesting SOPA in which the companies wrote in part:
"We support the bills' stated goals - providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign "rogue" websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation's cybersecurity."
The legislation is supported by MPAA, the Recording Industry Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who want to use provisions of the bill to help stop online piracy.
Chief political correspondent for CNET Declan McCullagh writes and speaks frequently about technology, law, and politics and, in December, he wrote a guide called, "How SOPA Would Affect You FAQ."
McCullagh said controversial measures of the bill include the possibility of innocent Web sites being swept in as "collateral damage," and it could require Internet providers to monitor customers' traffic and block websites suspected of copyright infringement.
A page on Craigslist devoted to the issue of SOPA issue states, "Corporate supporters of Senate 968 (PIPA) and HR 3261 (SOPA) demand the ability to take down any web site (including craigslist, Wikipedia, or Google) that hurts their profits - without prior judicial oversight or due process - in the name of combating "online piracy."" The page includes links to information on how users can contact Congress as well as links to petitions.
Online sellers understand intellectual property issues all too well - as IP owners, they deal with other sellers copying their work - and they are often on the receiving end of IP infringement take down notices, whether rightly or wrongly. eBay developed its own method of dealing with copyright issues called VeRO (Verified Rights Owner Program).
Check out the SOPA issue (make sure you understand it) and then let your members of Congress know how you stand on the issue.
Updated 1/18/12 to include Amazon.com's statement.
Update 1/18/12: Here is information on what some online marketplaces did today in support of the SOPA protest:
Amazon put a link on their home page to Net Coalition.
Ecrater put a link on every page to the Google page on SOPA.
Etsy put a prominent message on its home page that links to a special page on its site.