For all the energy it puts into obsessing over its bipartisanship fetish, the mainstream media seems to rarely notice that most righteous form of the phenomenon: Bipartisanship without compromise. Honest to God left-right solidarity on issues like war, bailouts, and censorship. In a show of such unity, Demand Progress is teaming up with Don't Censor the Net today to oppose Hollywood's calls for the government to block and seize more websites.
The move comes as Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) have scheduled a 2pm press conference to highlight legislation to rein in "online infringement." The model for those efforts appears to be the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), introduced by Leahy in late 2010 as S3804. It passed Senate Judiciary on a 19-0 vote, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) put a hold on it. More than 300,000 people have signed our anti-COICA petition.
COICA would let the Department of Justice (DOJ) force internet service providers (ISPs) to block individual internet users' access to sites that are asserted to have engaged in a low, ambiguous threshold of copyright infringement. COICA would also afford DOJ new powers to seize websites.
Demand Progress opposes the proposal because, as our co-founder Aaron Swartz puts it, "In their attempts to reign in online file-sharing, Hollywood moguls are once again willing to risk massive censorship. COICA's passage would be a tremendous blow to free speech on the Internet -- and likely a first step towards much broader online censorship."
Don't Censor the Net is run by former Bush-Cheney webmaster Patrick Ruffini, who stands with us because "The core conservative principles of small government and basic individual freedoms should not be abandoned on the internet. COICA represents a dangerous new encroachment of the government into our digital lives."
We also stand together in opposition to a recent spate of legally questionable domain name seizures undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The government appears to have targeted sites that merely link to, but do not house, infringing content: this was not previously understood to be a crime. Additionally, DHS and ICE admit to having "accidentally" seized more than 84,000 domain names earlier this year.