Heartland Institute Tech Expert Responds to SOPA Bill Debate

Published November 16, 2011

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was debated today in the House Judiciary Committee. The legislation – and its sister bill in the Senate, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (Protect IP) Act – are aimed at stopping digital piracy of movies, music, and software.

The following statement from Marc Oestreich, a technology and telecommunications expert at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below.

“SOPA and its sister-bill in the Senate, Protect IP, are prime examples of the federal government trying to solve one problem and creating a lot more. Rather than use traditional means to track down copyright violators, these bills shirk responsibility by tasking private enterprise with the real problem solving. Well, private enterprise has no business acting as the enforcement arm for these crimes.

“SOPA pushes burdensome tasks off on Internet service providers, online payment processors, and search engines. What do consumers get? A truly less free and open Internet and a likely increased cost for using many services.

“Perhaps scariest of all, SOPA gives an unprecedented private right of action to patent and copyright holders to pursue legal action. Victims and patent trolls alike will likely overwhelm the private companies now tasked with enforcement. When they don’t comply we’ll see a mess of ugly lawsuits. It’s time to get back to the drawing board on this idea.”

Marc Oestreich
Legislative Specialist for Technology Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois; Washington, DC; Austin, Texas; Tallahassee, Florida; and Columbus, Ohio. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.