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Online News Association Opposes Stop Online Piracy Act

(January 05, 2012)

WASHINGTON, DC -- (Marketwire) -- 01/05/12 -- The Online News Association, the world's largest membership organization of digital journalists, today announced its opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

In a letter to members, ONA Board President Christine Montgomery outlined the group's position and asked its 2,000 members to voice their concern over the bill, which will be debated during a markup session of the House Judiciary Committee later this month.

"As an organization representing thousands of content creators, ONA strongly condemns infringement of intellectual property and the violation of copyright. However, we believe SOPA would do little to stem those problems and would actually cause harm to the Internet and to the American public," Montgomery wrote in the association's letter. "The act -- and its counterpart in the Senate, the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) -- would inappropriately shut down websites, disrupt the free flow of legitimate information and limit Americans from fully exercising their First Amendment rights."

Among the problems ONA cited were the bill's efforts to punish those who make available any information, product or service that could be used to circumvent the efforts of Internet service providers to block access to allegedly infringing websites.

"Arab Spring" protestors, for example, used these tools to circumvent government blocking of their websites and communications, but because such services can also redirect users to infringing sites, any site offering such a tool or service could be targeted through SOPA and shut down.

ONA also raised concerns about the bill's negative effect on one of the most profound cultural developments of the web: the rise of social media and user-generated content. Any website that ingests user-generated content could be under constant risk for insufficiently confirming that uploaded content is neither infringing nor offering information on circumventing website blocks. Failure to do so could put the entire site at risk of a SOPA action.

"While ONA supports measures to curb infringement and copyright violations, those measures should be narrow and specific," said Montgomery. "SOPA is not."

The Online News Association is the world's largest association of digital journalists. ONA's mission is to inspire innovation and excellence among journalists to better serve the public. The membership includes news writers, producers, designers, editors, bloggers, developers, photographers, educators, students and others who produce news for and support digital delivery systems. ONA also hosts the annual Online News Association conference and administers the Online Journalism Awards.

For more information, contact:
Jane McDonnell
Executive Director
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