The Internet is under attack in Congress because some big corporations would rather stifle innovation online than compete against it.
That's why the founders of Google, YouTube, Craigslist, and Wikipedia wrote that a bill being considered tomorrow by a powerful House committee "would have a chilling effect on innovation" and "give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China."
Some background: YouTube started in a garage. If a big company like Viacom thought a video violated copyright law, Viacom couldn't break YouTube's links or force the kids who invented YouTube to spend millions in court.
Instead, under the law, Viacom would have to contact YouTube and allow YouTube to decide if the complaint had merit. YouTube had a "safe harbor" of time to voluntarily take down an infringing video without penalty.
Because of this due process, early investors in YouTube knew that big corporations couldn't shut down YouTube or litigate YouTube to death. This allowed innovation to thrive.
But if the "Stop Online Piracy Act" passes Congress, all of this would change. Innovative sites could be taken down by others (including the government at the behest of big corporations) without due process -- like in China.
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