Adrian Lopez writes: "Techdirt reports that 'apparently, the folks behind SOPA are really scared to hear from the opposition. We all expected that the Judiciary Committee hearings wouldn't be a fair fight. In Congress, they rarely are fair fights. But most people expected the typical "three in favor, one against" weighted hearings. That's already childish, but it seems that the Judiciary Committee has decided to take the ridiculousness to new heights. We'd already mentioned last week that the Committee had rejected the request of NetCoalition to take part in the hearings. At the time, we'd heard that the hearings were going to be stacked four-to-one in favor of SOPA. However, the latest report coming out of the Committee is that they're so afraid to actually hear about the real opposition that they've lined up five pro-SOPA speakers and only one "against."'
Demand Progress is running an online petition against such lopsided representation."
Adrian Lopez writes: A bill giving the government the power to shut down Web sites that host materials that infringe copyright is making its way quietly through the lame-duck session of Congress, raising the ire of free-speech groups and prompting a group of academics to lobby against the effort.
The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was introduced in Congress this fall by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It would grant the federal government the power to block access to any Web domain that is found to host copyrighted material without permission.
Opponents note that the powers given the government under the bill are very broad. Because the bill targets domain names and not specific materials, an entire Web site can be shut down. So for example, if the US determines that there are copyright-infringing materials on YouTube, it could theoretically block access to all of YouTube, whether or not particular material being accessed infringes copyright.
Adrian Lopez writes: The Internet blacklist bill known as COICA is up for vote on Thursday, with the first vote to be conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators for California, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, and Illinois will be the key votes in deciding whether COICA passes. Residents of those states are encouraged to contact their senators and let them know they oppose the bill.
COICA would let the US Attorney General create a blacklist of domains that every American ISP would be required to block. Wikileaks, YouTube, and others are all at risk. Human rights advocates, constitutional law experts, and the people who invented the Internet have all spoken out against this bill — but some of the most powerful industries in the country are demanding that Congress rush it through. The music industry is even having all of their employees call Congress to pose as citizens in support of the bill.
This bill is as bad for Americans and bad for the Internet. The decision to take down US and foreign websites shouldn't rest with the US Attorney General, and it should never be as easy as adding a website to a central list.
Adrian Lopez writes: The Senate is considering a bill that would create an online blacklist of Internet domain names. Hollywood has been stumping hard for this bill and unless we speak up, it could sail through Congress in the next couple weeks. Click here to sign Demand Progress' petition. GamePolitics also makes an important suggestion: "Senator Patrick Leahy is up for re-election, so if you don't like this law and want him to listen, now is probably the best time to talk to him about it — leahy.senate.gov or www.leahyforvermont.com. If he won't listen, talk to his opponent, Len Britton at www.lenbritton.com."
See the EFF's COICA page for more information, and let's give this issue a good Slashdotting!