The Stop Online Piracy Act seemed destined for passage when it first surfaced in the House of Representatives in 2011. Intended to discourage illegal copyright violations, SOPA would have given private entities the power to blacklist websites at will. It would have violated the due process rights of thousands of users who could have seen their sites disappear from the Internet. And it would have allowed banks to freeze financial deposits to the accounts of website owners, potentially forcing falsely accused Internet enterprises out of business.

Supporters claimed that SOPA was the only way to effectively fight online piracy. If it had passed, corporations (with the help of the courts) would have become the arbiters of what is and isn't lawful online activity, with millions of Internet users swept in their nets as collateral damage.

But on January 18, 2012, thousands of websites went dark to protest SOPA and its companion bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act. Wikipedia, reddit, BoingBoing, Free Press and Save the Internet were among the many participants in the protest, which created such a backlash that both bills were shelved.

This remarkable turn of events demonstrated the power of Internet organizing. But SOPA likely won't be the last time that powerful Hollywood studios and media companies use their Washington connections to try to slip through legislation that threatens the open Internet.

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Press Releases

  • Free Press Action Fund Calls on Congress to Return MPAA’s Dirty Money

    January 24, 2012

    WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, the Free Press Action Fund called on Congress to return campaign donations from the Motion Picture Association of America.

    In an interview last week, MPAA President Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator, threatened to cut off campaign donations to members of Congress who vote against legislation the MPAA supports.

  • Senate Delays PROTECT IP Vote After Public Outcry

    January 20, 2012

    WASHINGTON – On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would delay a vote on the PROTECT IP Act. A cloture vote on the controversial legislation had been scheduled for Tuesday.

    Craig Aaron, president and CEO of the Free Press Action Fund, made the following statement:

  • Free Press Action Fund: Even Without Blocking Provisions, Problems Remain in IP Bills

    January 13, 2012

    WASHINGTON -- On Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said that he has suggested removing a provision from the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that would allow for blocking domain names of websites that illegally post copyrighted content.

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News from Around the Web

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  • Broadband

    Access to high-speed Internet service — also known as broadband — is a basic public necessity, just like water or electricity.

    Yet despite its importance, broadband access in the United States is far from universal. Millions of Americans still stand on the wrong side of the digital divide, unable to tap into the political, economic and social resources of the Internet.

  • Cable

    Two decades ago, something unusual happened.

    Consumers were irate about their cable bills, which were increasing at nearly three times the rate of inflation. And Congress actually did something — adopting in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion the 1992 Cable Act. The law resulted in lower cable bills, saving consumers $3 billion in just over a year’s time.

  • Cybersecurity

    Our right to private communications is a cornerstone of American democracy. But with heightened awareness in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, technological advances have continued allowing the government to expand its reach into our private lives via electronic surveillance and data-mining programs. New laws and policies introduced in the last decade have eroded our civil liberties online.

    Congress has a poor track record when it comes to cybersecurity legislation. The bills introduced so far give the government way too much power to intrude on our privacy online.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good