Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why runners should oppose the "Stop Online Piracy Act"

Visiting Wikipedia this morning, I saw that it was blacked-out to encourage its readers to educate themselves on the draft Senate and House bills SOPA and PIPA.  Having done so, I composed and submitted to my Congressman the following note.  I encourage you to educate yourself, and to contact your representative.

I am concerned that enactment of the proposed House "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) would put a huge, unnecessary and ultimately ineffective burden on website owners to police user-contributed links for possible copyright infringement.  Such legislation would destroy the vibrant and interactive internet community, and impair citizens' ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.

To provide a personal example of the way this Act would impact, I am a recent Houston Marathon runner with a long history of running and health related interests, and maintain as a pure labor of love the blog: To learn from my visitors I invite them to post comments, and on many occasions they kindly provide helpful links to other sites.  While I check that such links are valid, I have no way to verify that violations of copyrights do not exist on such sites.  Thus, enactment of SOPA would effectively force me to disable all user-contributed comments, and to delete those which were previously posted.  In fact, even if I had an effective way to determine copyright violations, such an unnecessary burden would literally be never ending as I would need to continually re-visit such links ad infinitum.

Additionally, SOPA would adversely affect other sites that I frequently reference and value (e.g.,,, and Presuming such legislation was enacted all of these sites, and many others, would be forced to curtail user-contributed input - effectively destroying the vibrant culture of the web.  SOPA and PIPA therefore directly infringes upon U.S. Citizens' First Amendment rights to the detriment of society.  For these reasons, I strongly urge you to reject any legislation such as SOPA or PIPA.

Finally, here's a great song which highlights the issue superbly:


  1. Great post Mark! As always, thanks for keeping up informed. Hope you are recovering well from the Houston marathon!

  2. Great post and note to your congressman, I hope that bill gets defeated. I heard that Hollywood lobbied hard to get this bill passed, but the general public has spoken loud and clear that they don't like it. The power of the Internet.