Dear Mr. Peterson:
This letter acknowledges receipt of your correspondence regarding H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act." I appreciate hearing your views on this important matter.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith on October 26, 2011 and was subsequently referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it is currently undergoing committee hearings.
SOPA is a hard hitting attempt to address the legitimate problem of illegal downloads of copyrighted work like movies, television shows and music. I believe that artists and the companies that create content should be able to protect their information. However, this legislation forces Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to be the policing authorities on the beat to find, hunt, and shut down illegal pirate websites or the service provider is held liable for the copyright infringement. ISPs will have to maintain a list of banned websites. While SOPA would act as a filter for offending websites, as soon as these websites are shut down, similar copies are set up very quickly. ISPs and the Department of Justice will spend their time going after pirate websites that can be renamed and changed in an instant. I do not believe this is the most efficient way to solve the problem of piracy.
As ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I work closely on various cyber security issues. Both the Sandia National Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security took the position that SOPA will hurt U.S. efforts to keep our networks secure and safe from serious cyber attacks. As it stands now, SOPA is a one sided firewall that would hinder our ability to go after the real offenders and threats to our networks, while simultaneously limiting innovation and free speech. I hope that all stake holders can sit down and develop a compromise solution that avoids these problems.
In the House of Representatives, the current version of SOPA is not scheduled to move forward. There has been bipartisan concern raised about this legislation. Majority Leader Cantor has said that the Stop On-Line Piracy Act will not be moving forward until consensus is reached. Also, President Obama and Speaker Boehner have indicated that everyone's concerns must be addressed before legislative action is taken. In addition, the Senate is also postponing consideration of their version of SOPA, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Majority Leader Harry Reid has expressed that he would like to work out a compromise that all sides can agree to.
I appreciate hearing your views on this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if you have any questions or comments. To receive additional information about issues that are facing Congress, Maryland, and the Nation that may affect you and your community, please visit my website at Congressman Ruppersberger
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C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress