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Representative Zoe Lofgren Shows Her Internet Savvy: Ask Reddit for Internet Law Suggestions

the internet is serious business

Zoe Lofgren made sure that her name echoed loudly through the hallowed halls of the internet (did you know we have halls? Yeah, like tons of halls. Acres. With pillars and junk.) a year ago during the SOPA/PIPA debates in congress, by loudly opposing it, and even engaging in a Reddit AMA, hoping to drum up some attention to the pretty alarming powers the bill gave to rights holders and the pretty alarming requirements it made of internet service providers. While I won’t say she brought the issue to Reddit’s attention in the first place, her engagement with a large and influential internet community became part of a temporary internet revolution that culminated in Wikipedia, Tumblr, Reddit, Google, and a host of other websites going completely dark or otherwise completely devoting a day to raising awareness of the bill.

She has returned to Reddit recently, at the turn of the tide to perform a rather interesting experiment: crowdsourcing legislation.

Lofgren is considering introducing a bill on domain name seizures for infringement, that is, the ability of rightsholders to have government authorities seize domain names from their rightful owners because of copyright infringement, a power awarded to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by the 2008 PRO-IP Act. Lofgren voted against the bill, and asserts that while she considers domain name seizures to be dubiously constitutional, she knows the PRO-IP Act is unlikely to be repealed any time soon. The more feasible way to mitigate the possibility of abusing it and other bills that would allow domain name seizure would be to create a bill modifying the ways in which the U.S. government could wield domain name seizure in general. From her site:

The goal is to develop targeted legislation that requires the government to provide notice and an opportunity for website operators to defend themselves prior to seizing or redirecting their domain names. The focus would be on government domain name seizures based on accusations that a website facilitates copyright infringement and not, for example, accusations of obscenity or libel. Feedback and input should also take into account any legitimate concerns that notice or delay might reasonably lead to destruction of evidence, threats to the physical safety of an individual, or other unintended negative consequences.

Comments are already suggesting that if domain name seizure has to be included in law, that there should be greater penalties for companies that demand it and then fail to prove that any copyright infringement actually occurred, after days of essentially shutting down the storefront and infrastructure of web-based businesses. You can check out the thread here.

In the meantime, Representative Lofgren, keep being a cool internet congresswoman!

(via The Daily Dot.)

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