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As many of you know, there are currently bills under consideration in the U.S. Congress  (H.R. 3261, called the "Stop Online Piracy Act" or SOPA for short, and S. 968, the "Protect IP Act" or PIPA) that seek to curb various kinds of intellectual property "theft", including not only counterfeit drugs but also copyright infringement.

The primary thrust of these bills is something we in higher education have long advocated: that the best way to combat large-scale infringement is to inhibit the ability of infringers to advertise and to collect revenue.

Unfortunately, the bills also include various measures that go beyond targeting payment processors and advertisers. Some of these, such as a proposal that under some circumstances offenders' hostnames or domains should be redirected in DNS, have generated heated discussion within the technology community. Other problematic provisions appear to undercut the safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, DMCA, to create new mechanisms for copyright holders to implicate ISPs and other network operators in the actions of their customers, to possibly impose monitoring requirements on network operators, and to turn some streaming activities hosted by non-profit entities into felonies.

The provisions in the House bill (SOPA) are especially problematic, and there is great activity in Congress around it. Because of this, we in EDUCAUSE Policy have been working closely with federal relations counterparts from other associations and some campuses to frame and communicate concerns about the bill in ways that are likely to have influence. We have attempted to proceed pragmatically rather than philosophically. We seek to explain why provisions are problematic and/or unworkable, and to propose alternative language that might remedy these problems. It's been very important to read the bills closely, since much of what has been reported about them is at variance with what they actually say.

Since some of your institutions may be asked about SOPA (the House bill, which is where the activity is currently concentrated), or may be considering comments or other advocacy through your Members of Congress or Senators (or their staff), we thought it would be useful to disseminate within higher education the talking points we have been developing to use in discussions with members of Congress and their staff. You can find the current version of the talking points here:

or via a link from the EDUCAUSE Policy webpage,

If you disagree with these points, please let us know; you're certainly not bound by them. However, where possible it would be useful if higher education spoke consistently about the issues. Our hope is that distributing the talking points will help with that.

And of you're interested in working with us on this, by the way, please let us me ( or Joan Cheverie ( know.

Gregory A Jackson, Vice President
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Uncommon Thinking for the Common Good
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