Though I certainly do not support SOPA or the PROTECT IP Act (the complete, rather contrived acronym of PIPA), I will not be blacking out meyerweb. This is largely because the vast majority of my readers already know about these bills, and very likely oppose them; as for anyone who visits but does not know about these bills, I feel I’ll do better to speak out than to black out. (Which is not a criticism of those who do black out. We all fight in our own ways.)
Instead, I will reproduce here the letter I attempted to send via contact form to my state Senator this morning, and which I will print out and send by regular postal service later today.
I grew up in Lexington, Ohio. I moved to Cleveland in pursuit of a career, and found success. Through a combination of good luck and hard work, I have (rather to my surprise) become a widely recognized name in my field, which is web design and development. Along the way, I co-founded a web design conference with an even more widely respected colleague that has become one of the most respected and successful web design events in the world. This business is headquartered in Ohio—I live in Cleveland Heights with my family, and I intend to stay here until I either retire to Florida or die. Politically I’m best described as a moderate independent, though I do tend to lean a bit to the left.
As you can imagine, given my line of work, I have an opinion regarding the PROTECT IP Act which you have co-sponsored. The aims of PROTECT IP are understandable, but the methods are unacceptable. Put another way, if you wish to combat piracy and intellectual property theft, there are far better ways to go about it.
As someone with twenty years of technical experience with the Internet and nearly as many with the web—I started creating web pages in late 1993—please believe me when I say the enforcement mechanisms of the bill are deeply flawed and attack the very features of the Web that make it what it is. They are akin to making a criminal of anyone who gives directions to a park where drug trafficking takes place, regardless of whether they knew about the drug trafficking. You don’t have to be in favor of drug trafficking to oppose that.
This is not a case where tweaking a clause or two will fix it; correction in this case would mean starting from scratch. Again, the objection is not with the general intent of the bill. It is with how the bill goes about achieving those aims.
If you would like to discuss this with me further, I would be delighted to do whatever I can to help, but in any event I strongly urge you to reconsider your co-sponsorship of the PROTECT IP Act.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Eric A. Meyer (http://meyerweb.com/)
Partner and co-founder, An Event Apart (http://aneventapart.com/)
If you agree that the PROTECT IP Act is poorly conceived, find out if your senator supports PIPA. If they do, get in touch and let them know about your opposition. If they oppose the bill, get in touch and thank them for their opposition. If their support or opposition isn’t known, get in touch and ask them to please speak out in opposition to the bill.
As others have said, postal letters are better than phone calls, which are in turn better than e-mail, which is in turn better than signing petitions. Do what you can, please. The web site you save might be your own.