Today, I sent a letter and memorandum to Congress explaining that the controversial copyright bills in the House and Senate violate the First Amendment.
Here’s the press release. Thanks to the folks who helped get the release out. I am going to write a longer post on this soon.
December 8, 2011 Media Contact: Katie Barr, Glen Echo Group
Piracy Bills Violate First Amendment Says Leading Scholar
SOPA/PIPA raise important questions about the future of free speech
Washington, D.C. - Leading First Amendment scholar Marvin Ammori today sent a letter to members of Congress explaining that the copyright provisions of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) endanger constitutionally protected free speech and would violate the U.S. Constitution.
“The First Amendment problems with the bills’ copyright provisions would render the core provisions of the bills, if passed, unconstitutional,” said Ammori, an Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society. “While the bills pursue at least one important goal—targeting infringement by particular “rogue” foreign sites—as drafted, the bills burden considerable protected speech beyond copyright infringement.”
In his letter, Ammori highlights the damaging effect the bills would have on non-infringing speech and says the legislation raises important questions regarding the future of free speech and copyright enforcement on the Internet. Ammori warns the methods used by SOPA and PIPA would result in predictable “overblocking” of legitimate websites that did not contain infringing content and will therefore result in the restriction of protected speech.
“Because the bills restrict protected speech, standard First Amendment scrutiny applies,” said Ammori. “These bills would fail standard First Amendment scrutiny. This legal conclusion derives from a basic non-legal fact: these bills would restrict individuals’ power to speak freely and democratically online.”
To read the full letter from Marvin Ammori to Congress, please click here.