Lawmakers received a letter from nearly 3000 creators and over 6300 petition signatures against the so-called SMART Copyright Act, amid Twitter outcry from Creative Commons, Patreon, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Mozilla, Fight for the Future, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and more.
Last week, creators and constituents welcomed lawmakers back from their easter recess with an action to oppose the so-called SMART Copyright Act—a bill that civil liberties experts say will effectively mandate universal automated censorship chokepoints at every layer of the internet, enabled by surveillance backdoors into everything from ISPs like Comcast to file storage services like Dropbox.
2,987 independent creators signed onto a letter that reads in part: “We often hear from members of Congress that they support small business owners and artists. We cannot have a robust creative culture if a censorship regime is built into the services small and independent creators rely on.”
Read the full letter that was sent to all Senate Judiciary Members and list of its signatories at https://www.fightforthefuture.org/actions/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/creators-letter-SMART-Copyright.pdf
A petition submitted to Congress at the end of the action day garnered 6327 signatures, while at least 18 major businesses, civil society groups, and human rights organizations took to Twitter to voice their principled opposition to the bill with the hashtag #NoCensorshipFilter—which reached over 4 million Twitter accounts. A selection of these tweets are available on the action day website at https://www.nocensorshipfilter.com/
Among those speaking out in opposition via Twitter were Creative Commons, Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Wikimedia Foundation, Patreon, Mozilla, The Internet Archive, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, iFixIt, The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, Artículo 19, Engine, Authors Alliance, The Music Library Association, LibraryFutures, and more.
Lia Holland (she/they), Campaigns & Communications Director at Fight for the Future, which organized the day of action, said: “The lobbyists behind this bill are employed to serve the shareholders of Disneys and Amazons, and it really shows in how it seems designed to end all digital creativity Big Media won’t profit from. We are encouraged to see so many creators opposing yet another myopic bill being put forward in their name. This bill would be disastrous not only for the ability to create, but also for online privacy, basic internet safety, and fostering alternatives to Big Tech. The SMART Copyright Act is anything but. Were lawmakers to attempt to slip this Act into must-pass legislation, they would be opposed by the full force of the internet—just as they were when we defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act. ”
Katharine Trendacosta, Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which organized letters from Creators, said: “There is no excuse for creating a system that relies on broken technology, which won’t do what it claims to do, and will end up preventing important voices from being heard online. If you use the internet to speak, this will affect you.”
Kate Ruane (she/her), Lead Public Policy Specialist at The Wikimedia Foundation, said: “The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to defending free expression across borders and in the public interest. The SMART Copyright Act will lead to the censorship of legal content, harming free expression and human rights. Full stop. And by requiring platforms to adopt blunt filtering tools, it will force public interest platforms like Wikipedia to weaken community-based enforcement practices that balance free expression with honoring rightsholders. We urge Congress not to pursue this legislation.”
Former Head of Platform at Slack and Founding Developer of Google Reader Jason Shellen tweeted: “Copyright is broken and adding more censorship isn’t going to fix it.”
Author Journalist and Activist Cory Doctorow tweeted: “The so-called SMART Copyright Act is a new tool beyond DMCA that extends content filtering from platforms like YouTube and Twitch to every corner of the web.”
Even comedian Jimmy Dore amplified the day of action, tweeting with the hashtag #NoCensorshipFilter.