I am writing in response to your request that I analyze Timm Trevor’s “How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation” and make a recommendation for or against publication in The Shorthorn. Timm Trevor provides a wide range of arguments that PIPA and SOPA are a violation of free speech rights. He points out several disadvantages of carrying out these bills. This article is quite convincing and all arguments provided by the author impel the readers to be against PIPA and SOPA as far as these bills contradict American rights. As far as this topic is very essential for internet users as well as for the site owners, it should be published to attract the public attention to this problem.
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Timm Trevor uses a lot of arguments against PIPA and SOPA and aims at the reader’s persuasion of the importance of this issue and he wants to impel the public to stop these bills. The author starts by saying that although the government ensure that there will not be any action “that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet” (Trevor, 2012), the Senate is going to put the question of PIPA on the agenda next week and SOPA proponents do all their best to legitimate the bill. Timm Trevor highlights that such actions are a violation of “the White House’s own principles by damaging free speech, internet security, and online innovation” (Trevor, 2012). Of course, this problem is concerned by the readers of The Shorthorn as far as they are the internet users whose rights may be wounded. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to the freedom of speech and expression. The legalization of PIPA and SOPA is a strict violation of these rights as far as not everyone has the right to express their thoughts on the internet according to these new bills. The government contradicts free speech rights putting PIPA and SOPA on the agenda.
Further on, Timm Trevor presents several facts that testify to the illegality of these bills. He calls SOPA “the anti-circumvention provision” that prohibits the copyrighting of the information considered to be inaccurate and blocks those sites where the violation of censorship is noticed. These new requirements may reduce online innovation and restrain free speech rights. The author convinces the reader by providing the point of view of different experts. For example, he cites the words of the First Amendment expert, Marvin Ammori, who points out that it is quite difficult and unprofitable to monitor the sites for anti-circumvention and they will not have any sense to have these sites at all. Moreover, the users will not have the possibility to use different sites freely as they are accustomed to doing it as far as only IP addresses of blocked sites will be provided. This fact does not enjoy the owners of the sites as well as the users who want to have the information they want freely and quickly. Additionally, there is no possibility to provide information on the internet without providing the information about its author. As the result, anonymization or privacy software is the main target of PIPA and SOPA. Many people express their concern by organizing demonstrations and making blogs where they express their dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, not everyone realizes the whole seriousness of these bills and their consequences. The author covers this problem in his article to attract more attention and make the readers think over this problem. Having read this article with such strong arguments against the adoption of these bills, every reader realizes that this problem concerns everyone. People should stop the realizations of these bills as they struggle for their rights for freedom of speech and expression. The main aim of the author is to unite all net users’ efforts to resist the adoption of these bills.
Another dangerous provision of these bills is called by the author “the vigilante provision”. Timm Trevor expresses his concern about the danger of over-blocking a lot of innocent sites without any proven evidence. A lot of sites find themselves under the pressure of strict control without any legal oversight. The author provides the information from the Public Knowledge pointing out that large corporations may have a lot of advantages from PIPA and SOPA as far as it makes it easy for them to “stamp out their competitors and skirt anti-trust laws” (Trevor, 2012). He also gives the example when an Internet service provider could block online video offerings grounding such action on the use of infringement and helping to promote the use of cable television. As we can see, PIPA and SOPA is quite reasonable trick in recruiting many sites. These bills are quite profitable for many corporations and there is no wonder that there are people who want these bills to be accepted. Nevertheless, the majority of people are internet users whose rights to freedom of speech and expression are violated. The article is mainly addressed to these ordinary users who are the majority of the readers of The Shorthorn. That is why it is one of the most effective means to attract the public attention with the help of this article.
Further on, Timm Trevor considers PIPA and SOPA to be the freedom of action for copyright holders. If earlier they may cut off advertisers and payment processors of foreign websites, now they have the right to block the whole site if there are any indications of infringing content. If earlier the sites may delete only that information which is considered to be infringing, now they do not have such opportunity. They may be blocked without any legal oversight. The author points out that these bills enlarges the rights of copyright holders and cut the rights of site owners and web users. Although many consider these bills to be activated only on foreign sites, Timm Trevor thinks that they are also a violation of Americans’ rights. He provides the words of Marvin Ammori, “The seminal case of Lamont v. Postmaster makes it clear that Americans have the First Amendment right to read and listen to foreign speech, even if the foreigners lack a First Amendment speech right” (Trevor, 2012). Even if they do not violate the rights of American owners of different sites, it is an evident violation of Americans’ rights as far as they have a right to be aware of the information provided by foreign sites and to listen to the foreign speech.
Finally, the author points out that PIPA and SOPA provide more rights to Attorney General as far as there is the right to block domain name services if they are considered to be insecure according to both First Amendment scholars and Internet security experts. The Attorney General also has the right to delete some sites from search engines which are considered to be a strict violation of the Internet structure and Google search itself.
Timm Trevor makes the conclusion that PIPA and SOPA change the way of using the Internet we are accustomed to and punish a lot of innocent users who do not have any idea about copyright infringement. The author uses the expressive words of Alexis Ohanian who is the co-founder of Reddit who says that PIPA and SOPA are “the equivalent of being angry and trying to take action against Ford just because a Mustang was used in a bank robbery” (Trevor, 2012). The last sentence is the appeal to stop these bills which violate free speech and innovation rights.
This article is presented in a very captivating way. It should be noted that the author uses quite specialized language which may be quite difficult to understand for an ordinary reader. As for the content of this article, I think the author presents the main provisions of PIPA and SOPA in a logico-connected and precise way. He provides a lot of proves to stop these bills supporting his ideas by a lot of quotations from many prominent people. If the reader does not know anything about PIPA and SOPA, having read this article he/she is aware of the main provisions and disadvantages of PIPA and SOPA. More than that, this piece of writing is a sort of appeal to the reader to stop the violation of their rights. The main aim of the author is achieved. His article makes the reader think about the influence of these bills on his/her ordinary life. Everyone realizes that these bills strictly connect to his/her life. The way of Internet browsing we are accustomed to is under the threat of great changes and the author attracts the reader’s attention to this main problem. This article is worth being presented on The EFF and being read by many users to be inspired to action to stop these bills.
Trevor, Timm 2012, “How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation”.