Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) today offered an amendment during the House Judiciary Committee's consideration of an Internet piracy bill that would have protected colleges, universities and non-profit research institutions from compliance costs related to policing copyright protect content. The legislation--the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA)--would hold colleges and universities responsible for preventing access to copyrighted material on their networks or schools could face legal action by the Justice Department. The Polis amendment would have ensured legal responsibility remained with individuals who violate copyright law and not colleges and universities. The amendment failed by a vote of 9-23 although it had bipartisan support.
"We need a balanced approach to Internet piracy but SOPA would take money out of the classrooms and labs of CU and CSU and direct it toward the technical requirements of complying with the law or the legal cost of defending schools in court," said Polis. "With schools already facing tough times, tuition on the rise, and other challenges to higher education, we shouldn't be passing laws that slap new unfunded mandates on our colleges and universities."
Those who illegally access copyrighted material are already violating the law. The Polis amendment would have exempted CU, CSU and other colleges and universities from the cost of complying with the new restrictions and ensured that the individual who violates copyright law is held responsible.
SOPA would not only force colleges and universities to police the Internet or face legal action, the bill would leave Colorado's non-profit research institutions, such as National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), vulnerable as well.
Polis is a leading opponent of SOPA, which would end the Internet as we know it by limiting free speech and commerce by taking an overly broad approach to fighting Internet piracy. Should the Committee approve SOPA this week it is not expected to reach the House floor until next year.