I had called my congressional representatives in Washington during the internet blackout protesting SOPA/PIPA. Sen. Johnson (or a lowly intern) graciously replied electronically, saying that he agrees with Congress in that we should take a step back and try to re-do this whole thing because we want to protect our American IP from the greedy clutches of the world. In kind, I responded to Sen. Johnson that we need to fight for freedom and let crime be the catalyst for technological innovation. Instead of fencing ourselves from the world, let us lead the world in open pride. Here’s the correspondence:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.
These bills attempt to prevent foreign-based websites from pirating American intellectual property by allowing federal courts to issue orders against websites that are “dedicated to infringing activity.” The court order can then be served on search engines, payment providers, and other third parties, thereby enlisting them to prevent transactions with the infringing website.
I understand the positions of those on both sides of this issue. The internet has been an amazing vehicle for business creation and the dissemination of information because it has provided a free-market environment with minimal regulatory burdens. On the other hand, authors, artists, and inventors should have the ownership of their creations protected, especially in the international forum of the internet. In sum, we must jealously guard the freedom of the Internet while protecting copyright holders, keeping the internet both free and prosperous.
In view of these important competing interests, I totally support the Senate’s decision to take a step back from these two pieces of legislation and seek a proper balance. I do not believe that balance was struck by either piece of legislation as they are currently written. The best way to balance those interests may be to more actively enforce existing laws. Through targeted enforcement, we can shut down the worst actors using the authority of existing laws.
Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts. It is important for me to hear the views and concerns of the people I serve. Since taking office, I have received over 300,000 pieces of correspondence and have had over 150,000 people participate in live forums and telephone town hall meetings.
Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can further assist you or your family. It is an honor representing you and the good people of Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.
Ron Johnson United States Senator
Dear Senator Johnson,
Thank you for taking time to listen to me as well as the thousands of other voices across the nation and internationally. These efforts are globally significant and it is of the utmost importance that we strive to carefully achieve the balance you talk about.
I do not believe that we can have a completely free system without risks of crime and scandal; that is the price one pays for freedom in a society of depraved people. I much prefer freedom to dictatorship, that is why I am proud of my country’s heritage and world-wide legacy.
Let’s strive to keep freedom at the forefront and let’s let the crime be a catalyst for innovation, pushing art, music and film to new degrees of excellence rather than new degrees of complaining and legislation. We are a country of innovators, inventors and problem-solvers; let’s keep the issue there and strive to lead the world rather than keep putting up fences.
Your grateful constituent,