Last week I had the privilege of being in Washington DC to talk to a number of distinguished members of Congress along with top leadership from The Whitehouse to urge them to reject two pieces of legislation which would be detrimental to the Internet and to the United States economy.  

The two bills (Stop Online Piracy Act in the House of Representatives and Protect IP Act in the Senate) have a noble goal, reducing online piracy.  Unfortunately, these bills come at a terrible price – they will force the creation of a “great firewall of America” used to censor websites that are hosted outside of the US and they will burden Internet companies with liability and litigation that will force new jobs and businesses to be created overseas.

Here is a copy of letter I am sending to Congress today: Please feel free to share widely and comment below.

  • That is a great letter, and is perfect for what Congress needs to see. Thanks, David.

  • kevin

    Why does viewing a letter require Flash?

  • Kevin — Fair enough, here you go:

  • Scott

    BBC iPlayer does not play in America and Comedy Central does not play in the UK. They do if you go through a proxy server, how-ever beyond the technical know how of most computer users, so “great firewall of America” already happening in some scenarios. Sorry england you may not access this resource.

  • Jason

    Scott, that’s not really a firewall in as much as your IP address is Geo-located in a database that allows a content provider to restrict delivery content. A firewall would deny you at the boarder of the network. A simple VPN provider inside the network you want to get your content from would resolve the issue.

    Congress is just being good stewards of money they are getting shoveled into the trunks of their luxury cars. Sadly enough if David didn’t arrive with his checkbook, the staff may have even allowed him to see a congress person who would nod and smile – probably shake a hand and promise to check into things, then send him on his way.

  • Jason — I think Scott means that its functionally the same, although you’re right, it’s technically quite different. To end-users, it’s the same experience. You need a VPN or Proxy to bypass it.

    Regarding Congress, they were certainly attentive to me. I think I managed six congressmen/women, three senior whitehouse officials, and about 6 legislative staffers in one day. 🙂

  • Outstanding! Our country needs more capitalism and innovation and a lot less conflicting laws meant to hinder crime, but that only end up hindering business and normal people doing everyday things.

    Bravo to you sir for speaking out, in writing, to the people that need to hear it. You have my support.

  • Janey

    Thank you, David! To many of us, this seems like a very far reaching effort to “curb piracy” – or in other words, “Here, Congress, we in Hollywood have lots of money that we have shoveled in your direction. Please scribble up some draconian laws to prop up our outdated business model. Oh, and make sure that you say that it will protect children. That always works!”

    The UK has tried using their secret anti-child porn filter to start blocking sites that the MPA feels “infringe on copyrights.” To Big Media, copyright > free speech. Sad but true.

    Thanks for hopefully talking some sense into Congress. I like a lot of them, but they’re my grandfather’s age. He’s not so up on technology either.. :/

  • Sean

    What a beautifully written letter. I couldn’t have said it better. Everyone needs to work together in defeating this legislation. David, thank you for using your knowledge and expertise in helping get our voices heard. The internet is our biggest innovation and is one of our biggest sectors of growth. We can’t jeopardize American innovation and growth for the sake of the entertainment industry.

  • Geir Leirvik

    Thanks for standing up for us all. The proposed laws are similar to peeing in your pants to keep warm on an frosty day.

    The film industry lost it when they moved to the DVDs and made inferior products that force your to expose kids to the same old ads when they want to see a movie for the n-th time. It is the only time a copy is superior to the original. They need to innovate rather than legislate and litigate, the sooner they real understand that taking fighting your customers is not the way to succeed, that stand a chance – not before.

    There is also the foolish item of geographics rights restrictions, another but related topic. How does the rights owners believe this makes the users feel. Yes, you bought the rights to view the content, but because you happen to be abroad or in the wrong country – we are not going to give your what you paid for or are willing to pay for.

    Give me a break – innovate – make sense and become relevant again. Introducing censorship and spying on all your citizens is not a way to get more business. – Unless you are the lawyers of the dying corporations…. consider that. Even that is temporary business.

  • Have you ever seen any bill against internet piracy that did any good? And who decide which sites are good and which are bad?

  • Omid Kosari

    I am Iranian . Unfortunately we see that the US government is going in same way as Iran government .

    Here we say the government doing some tasks without any logic but if US gov do that , it means Iran gov was at right way since many years before US .

    Internet freedom = Human freedom

  • notasheep

    One megacorp to rule them all, one megacorp to find them, one megacorp to bring them all and in the darkness bind them…

    America is becoming a little China ugh. Deceptive laws are being passed not to do what their titles may claim, but to strip away even more of our rights and freedoms.

    You wrote an awesome letter! I hope Congress stops selling its collective soul and instead starts taking care of America while there’s still an America to take care of.

  • David:

    Great letter, and glad to see people standing up against dumb over-reaching legislation that is more harmful than the “problem” it is designed to fix. Unfortunately, this is increasingly typical in Washington, as they have little to no understanding of technology and are falling further and further behind.

    One point that I would pick on from your letter is being complimentary of the DMCA. This bill is as evil, if not more so, than the bills you are trying to defeat. And, for many of the same reasons you cite: it is anti-innovation, and promotes protection of entrenched interests, limiting consumer rights that original IP protections in the form of patents and copyrights were designed to defend.

    I would argue (and have argued) that the real people who should be labeled as pirates are the entertainment industry
    who always fight for more and more restrictive rules that cost all of us to extract a few more pennies for themselves, rather than working to increase the value that people are willing to pay for. It’s unfortunate that all this has become so complex that average people don’t understand what they’re losing, and I think much of that has to do with the entertainment industry successfully branding anyone who disagrees with their position as “pirates” or as supporting piracy. Allowing that word to stick is why they have a simple message (and will probably win) and why your message is too unemotional and difficult for people to grasp. I wrote a detailed analysis of this a few years ago here:

    I wish that the whole technology industry would get behind this and make a bigger deal of it, but I doubt they will. The key to winning though is marketing — changing the frame of reference from “protecting IP” and “stopping piracy” to “job-killing”, “anti-innovation”, “harmful to consumer rights”, “anti-freedom” and many more epithets that such legislation should be tagged with. Frankly, the visibility for this is so low right now that it’s very likely Hollywood will win — I usually watch for this kind of stuff, and hadn’t even heard that legislation was pending.

    I think that if you just focused on why this will kill jobs and is harmful to the American innovation engine (which most people believe is the key to getting out of the mess we’re currently in), you could take that message to the Today Show, CNBC, the WSJ and other important communications outlets and have a chance of winning by calling out the congressmen who are on the wrong side. Just a thought.

    Keep us posted on progress.

  • Hemo_jr

    I applaud OpenDNS for its opposition to SOPA/Protect IP. This is definitely a cure that is far worse than the disease.

  • 505dan

    As a foreign user of OpenDns and many other services hosted in the US I find SOPA & PIPA terribly draconian. Let’s just hope for the sake for the future of the Internet that none of this proposals get approval. It would take no time for other countries to copy such intervention and then restrict our freedom.

  • Way to go! A very well written letter. I like the fact that the points in it hit exactly where they should. The SOPA and PIPA must die.

  • Just as Brian Proffitt wrote on ITWorld (

    “The open source community is particularly at risk with the passage of either of these two pieces of legislation, because the wording gives media companies a license to not only hunt and kill sites that host pirated copy, but also the tools that media companies claim enable downloading. That includes a lot of DRM-free and open source software.”

    I think there is much more into those two pieces of legislation than just fighting piracy. To be honest, how many of those accused of stealing because of downloading music or movies would buy those items at their actual price if they couldn’t download them… I suspect very few of them.

    It’s the control over the internet that many have been seeking since many years ago what they are after, again. Let’s not forget that many of those media companies are large corporations with interests beyond media itself, some of them not known to the general public.

    Thank you David for that stand up against them. Did you also sent it to Senate as well? PIP, their child is just as bad as SOPA, just in a smarter look.

    PS Sorry if i made any gramatical mistakes. It’s been many years since I left college in US and I’m not a native english speaker…