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NY Tech Community Fights SOPA

If you care about the internet, entrepreneurship or technology, you should care about PIPA / SOPA. For the record, I am 100% in favor of protecting the rights of artists and copyright holders. Artistic creation takes incredible effort and intellectual property rights help insure that we have a vibrant culture and media economy. However, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” is not about stopping online piracy. It is a seemingly quick fix for a difficult, complicated problem that will create new issues, potentially far worse than those it means to address. Those of us who care about media and technology need to do what we can to make sure our lawmakers understand this. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Prof. Lawrence Tribe’s letter to congress, which outlines how SOPA violates the 1st Amendment.

More generally, I HAD to reprint the following call-to-action from the organizers of the NY Tech Meetup. For those of us who have witnessed the impact of technology and media businesses on the New York business climate, the proposed legislation is particularly disconcerting.

The future of the NY tech community is in jeopardy. The Internet and information technologies have created a renaissance in startup innovation in New York that now rivals Silicon Valley as a hub for economic growth. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been inspired to become entrepreneurs creating thousands and thousands of new jobs and offering professionals in many of New York’s traditional industries the opportunity to start new careers participating in the 21st century global economy.

However, Congress is in the process of rushing through legislation which will not only severely damage the Internet as a marketplace and platform for entrepreneurship and open innovation, but will also seriously impact the ability of our New York tech community to continue to generate jobs, grow and flourish. Within the next two weeks, the US Senate is planning to bring the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) S.968 to the floor for a series of votes to ensure its passage.

This legislation would give the government and corporations the ability to censor the net in the name of protecting creativity simply by convincing a judge that a site is “dedicated” to copyright infringement. PIPA would give the government and corporations the ability to shut down any site connected to an accused copyright infringer. Its companion legislation in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261, contains many similar problems, as well as threatening ordinary users with jail for streaming any copyrighted work – even just video of themselves singing a pop song.

More importantly, the legislation amounts to a wholesale re-engineering of the open web in a way that would allow the US government to prosecute Internet users without due process, which in turn would discourage innovation, limit investment, and hurt the our economic future. You can read and hear more about this dangerous and hurtful legislation here: or

As much as we agree that infringing on copyrighted material should be eliminated from the web as much as possible, the cure that is being proposed and championed by the lobbying power of major copyright holding organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will create a cure that is much worse than the disease and irrevocably damage the very nature of the internet and by extension, the future of New York.

We believe it is imperative that we stop this bill from passage!

Signed: Andrew Rasiej, Chairman — @rasiej
Scott Heiferman, Founder — @heif
Nate Westheimer, Executive Director — @innonate
Jessica Lawrence, Managing Director — @jessicalawrence
And the entire NY Tech Meetup Board — @nytm