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Foreign Internet Piracy Apologists Falsely Demonize Rep. Marsha Blackburn

It’s a curious thing, the sudden and bizarre demonization of true constitutional conservatives like Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) by some conservative online agitants.

Most conservatives understand that Rep. Blackburn is one of the more reliably intelligent and sober figures in contemporary politics. That’s particularly true when it comes to technology policy. While most political leaders speak in simplistic talking points, Rep. Blackburn is known for developing real knowledge about, and applies her steady conservative principles to, the issues.

As the most prominent example, Rep. Blackburn remains one of the most steadfast and informed opponents of so-called “Net Neutrality,” which truly will launch governmental micromanagement of Internet service.

So it’s especially odd and ironic that some conservatives suddenly slur her. Said RedState’s (and CNN’s) Erick Erickson, “I am pledging right now that I will do everything in my power to defeat her in her 2012 re-election bid.” His rationale? Erickson has joined the likes of MoveOn.org, Demand Progress, the Marxist group Free Press and others on the left in fanatically opposing legislation to stop foreign Internet piracy, H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). In doing so, he and other generally reliable conservatives are promoting lawlessness and outright theft by foreign pirates over constitutionally protected property rights.

So what is SOPA, and why all of the fuss?

First, a personal observation: I have never witnessed an opposition campaign characterized by such misinformation, ignorance and outright dishonesty as the one waged by opponents of the legislation. To be clear, I have never met Mr. Erickson, I respect him generally and have absolutely zero ill will toward him personally. He provides, however, a perfect example of misinformation by making claims such as, “The Act intends to stop online piracy. The way the Act goes about doing this is, in large part, allowing Eric Holder to take control of the internet and shut down websites he does not like.” That is flatly, horribly false. Anyone who has actually read the bill knows how preposterous that comment is. Unfortunately, it’s all too typical of the anti-SOPA coalition.

In previous commentaries I have addressed and corrected the main anti-SOPA myths more fully, but here’s the essence of the truth people should know about it.

First, the bill targets foreign rogue websites dedicated to the theft of American intellectual property that would already be subject to seizure if located within the U.S. Such websites currently pirate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American intellectual property, which accounts for an enormous portion of domestic jobs, exports and output.

Second, the bill incorporates exhaustive due process protections for all parties involved. This is critical, because opponents falsely claim that the Attorney General or rights holders would somehow possess arbitrary powers against innocent actors. Quite the contrary, the bill explicitly incorporates the same Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that apply to all litigation. Relief can only be granted upon such prerequisites as notice to adverse parties, specific facts that “clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage” will occur, specific details justifying relief and opportunity for adverse parties to present their rebuttal. The bill also punishes false claims, protects defendants against impossible or unreasonable burdens, allows courts to modify relief in the interests of justice and allows damages (including legal fees) for wronged defendants.

So when opponents of SOPA claim that it deprives anyone of due process, they are speaking either dishonestly or ignorantly. That is a simple fact.

Opponents of SOPA also falsely claim that it somehow constitutes “censorship” or a threat to “free speech.” Setting aside for a moment the sham that foreign thieves operating outside the jurisdiction of the United States somehow enjoy any First Amendment protections, otherwise illegal activity does not magically achieve sacred status or legal immunity simply because it occurs on the Internet rather than on a street corner. Moreover, this legislation and judicial orders pursuant to it would remain subject to the same judicial review applicable to any other statute.

Compounding the irony, Google, no friend to the conservative cause, constitutes the primary corporate interest driving opposition to the bill. That’s no surprise, since Google profits handsomely from the theft of others’ intellectual property online. Just last August, the search giant admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay a $500 million fine to avoid criminal charges that it had padded its bottom line for years by knowingly accepting advertising by foreign pharmacies preying on American consumers, which led to the illegal imports of unsafe prescription drugs.

In other words, it’s no coincidence that the largest corporate interest fueling the misinformed opposition to giving domestic rights holders the tools necessary to protect their property against foreign theft online is also the company that stands to gain the most financially from SOPA’s defeat. Indeed, the legislation’s defeat should be viewed for what it is: the ultimate policy bailout for Google. And lest conservatives forget, Google furiously supports “Net Neutrality,” which actually does constitute toxic governmental encroachment against Internet freedom.

So shame on so many SOPA opponents on the right, who have curiously joined the online equivalent of Occupy Wall Street to put the interests of foreign thieves ahead of the constitutional rights of American property owners.

The fact that they can’t oppose the bill on honest, genuine bases speaks volumes. As does the fact that they demonize proven champions of freedom like Rep. Blackburn, who is among the staunchest defenders against actual threats of censorship and improper government expansion.

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