The Internet is one of the last places where people can navigate freely, most of the time without sharing their identity. You can use it to find interesting articles or to start your own website. Either way, dear friends, if the Anti-Piracy Law passes Congress and is signed by President Obama, you might be eligible for targeting by the U.S. government.
The Anti-Piracy Law’s main target is “rogue Web sites dedicated to the sale of infringing or counterfeit goods.” Sounds good, but here’s the rub: You could end up in jail just by posting something that your neighbor invented last night in the shower.
Last week Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company is prepared to fight if the bill is signed into law.
If there is a law that requires DNS, to do x, and it’s passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it…If it’s a request, the answer is we wouldn’t do it. If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it.
The Protect IP Act is meant to to help music and movie producers, who claim that the Internet’s pressured their revenues and that by shutting down “illegal” websites, they’ll be able to revamp their businesses. This means that if your site is infringing on copyrights, it will vanish from the Web as search engines, DNS providers and advertising firms delete it from their databases. (The UK is rumored to be working on similar laws to reduce and deny access to sites that share or post pirated content.)
After Schmidt’s remarks, the Recording Industry Association of America fired back:
As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity. In substance and spirit, this contradicts the recent testimony of that the company takes copyright theft seriously and was willing to step up to the plate in a cooperative and serious way.
The Motion Picture Association of America chief of government relations was more arrogant, adding:
Is Eric Schmidt really suggesting that if Congress passes a law and President Obama signs it, Google wouldn’t follow it? As an American company respected around the world, it’s unfortunate that, at least according to its executive chairman’s comments today, Google seems to think it’s above America’s laws.
And, in a CNET later interview, a Google spokesmen added:
“Free expression is an issue we care deeply about, and we continue to work closely with Congress to make sure the Protect IP Act will target sites dedicated to piracy while protecting free expression and legitimate sites.”
It’s not clear yet what the government wants to achieve, but this doesn’t smell good. Everyone knows that Google is encouraging the distribution of open resources over the Internet, so we hope it will continue fighting this strange Law.