The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Politicians have long debated how best to protect freedom of expression while also respecting copyright laws, and the web is buzzing with concerns that new proposals in Congress threaten to disrupt that delicate balance.

The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act, as well as the Senate’s Protect IP Act, are intended to punish websites and companies that host unauthorized copyrighted content. But critics argue that the vague wording would temper freedom of expression by imposing harsh penalties on and possibly shutting down sites that enable users to share information without many restrictions — which would effectively allow wide government censorship of the Internet.

In addition to bipartisan sponsorship, the proposals are supported by the Motion Picture Association of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Federation of Musicians, and others seeking to protect copyrighted material like movies, songs, and software. According to the Chamber of Commerce, Hollywood studios, record labels, and publishing houses lose $135 billion annually from piracy and counterfeiting. Most provisions of the acts are aimed at punishing foreign websites from violating U.S. intellectual property laws, but they would also regulate content on domestic sites.

On the other side of the debate are online activists as well as large companies like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and the Consumer Electronics Association. These groups say the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) last month, gives the government too much power to shut down websites accused of violating copyright laws. If passed, it would drastically change sites like YouTube, on which users regularly sing copyrighted music or post clips of television shows and movies. Opponents’ concerns are summarized in the video below.

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

The controversy came to a head during a House hearing Wednesday, but a decision has yet to be reached. Meanwhile, Yahoo has canceled its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other companies have threatened to follow suit. Whatever the outcome, the debate will continue to pit Internet companies and activists against the entertainment industry and politicians.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

New Poll Reveals Problems For Trump--And His Party

Image via Twitter

A year after former President Donald Trump left the White House and Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States, Trump continues to have considerable influence in the Republican Party. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former Trump critic turned Trump sycophant, recently told Fox News that having a “working relationship” with Trump must be a litmus test for anyone in a GOP leadership role in Congress. But an NBC News poll, conducted in January 14-18, 2022, finds that many Republican voters identify as Republicans first and Trump supporters second.

Analyzing that poll in the New York Times on January 21, reporters Leah Askarinam and Blake Hounshell, explain, “Buried in a new survey published today is a fascinating nugget that suggests the Republican Party may not be as devoted to Trump as we’ve long assumed. Roughly every month for the last several years, pollsters for NBC News have asked: ‘Do you consider yourself to be more of a supporter of Donald Trump or more of a supporter of the Republican Party?’ Over most of that time, Republicans have replied that they saw themselves as Trump supporters first.”

Keep reading... Show less

Ivanka Trump Testifying To January ^ Committee Is Vital

Image via @Huffington Post

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection moves along, it is examining Ivanka Trump’s actions that day — especially the former White House senior adviser urging her father, then- President Donald Trump, to call off his supporters when the U.S. Capitol Building was under attack. This week, Ivanka Trump’s importance to the committee is the focus of a column by liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent and an article by blogger Marcy Wheeler.

Sargent notes that the committee’s “new focus on Ivanka Trump” shows that it “is developing an unexpectedly comprehensive picture of how inextricably linked the violence was to a genuine plot to thwart a legitimately elected government from taking power.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}