Fighting the wrong war with the wrong weapons
Glenn Reynolds links to this story: Dozens of law professors: PROTECT IP Act is unconstitutional:
An ideologically diverse group of 90 law professors has signed a letter opposing the PROTECT IP Act, the Hollywood-backed copyright enforcement/Internet blacklist legislation now working its way through Congress. The letter argues that its domain-blocking provisions amount to Internet censorship that is barred by the First Amendment.
Jointly authored by Mark Lemley, David Levine, and David Post, the letter is signed not only by prominent liberals like Larry Lessig and Yochai Benkler, but also by libertarians like Post and Glenn “Instapundit”Reynolds.
“The Act would allow courts to order any Internet service to stop recognizing [a] site even on a temporary restraining order… issued the same day the complaint is filed,” they write. Such a restraining order, which they describe as “the equivalent of an Internet death penalty,” raises serious constitutional questions.
Yep. I argued much the same thing here a while ago, and I’m only a former law professor. (Ahem… adjunct.)
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that the encroachment of Big IP on the right of free expression — commercial or otherwise — has been my central theme. And within that theme, I have consistently pointed out that the existing legal rules, especially in copyright, are already hopelessly skewed wrong.
Online counterfeiting and copyright infringement are serious problems, but this new proposed law is a terrible way to try to solve them. Its passage would only drive the culture further yet from any respect for the rule of law as it applies to intellectual property. But if Big IP hasn’t figured out yet that it is cultural acceptance of legal norms, not fear of punishment, that makes a free society a law-abiding one — if Big IP doesn’t understand what the de facto attitude of consumers regarding copyright has already become, and where it is already going — then heck, maybe at this point the law professors and the rest of us should just let Congress already go ahead and give them enough rope.