Emergency NY Tech Meetup to Stop SOPA and PIPA

Andrew-Rasiej-at-Protests against SOPA and PIPA
Andrew Rasiej at protests against SOPA and PIPA

by Lauren Keyson

Andrew Rasiej, chairman of NY Tech Meetup‘s board of directors, spoke out to the 1000’s in the crowd protesting SOPA and PIPA.

The future of the NY tech community is in jeopardy. An Emergency NY Tech Meetup is being called in New York on January 18, 2012, so that the tech community can publicly demonstrate their collective dismay at the unprecedented attack currently being made on the Internet and our industry. Over 1,000 people will gather at 12:30 pm outside the offices of Senators Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand at 780 Third Avenue.

Here’s why:

The Internet and information technologies have created a renaissance in startup innovation in New York that now rivals Silicon Valley as a hub for economic growth. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers have been inspired to become entrepreneurs creating thousands and thousands of new jobs and offering professionals in many of New York’s traditional industries the opportunity to start new careers participating in the 21st-century global economy.

However, Congress is in the process of rushing through legislation that will not only severely damage the Internet as a marketplace and platform for entrepreneurship and open innovation but will also seriously impact the ability of our New York tech community to continue to generate jobs, grow and flourish. Within the next two weeks, the US Senate is planning to bring the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) S.968 to the floor for a series of votes to ensure its passage.

This legislation would give the government and corporations the ability to censor the net in the name of protecting creativity simply by convincing a judge that a site is “dedicated” to copyright infringement. PIPA would give the government and corporations the ability to shut down any site connected to an accused copyright infringer. Its companion legislation in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), H.R. 3261, contains many similar problems, as well as threatening ordinary users with jail for streaming any copyrighted work – even just video of themselves singing a pop song.

Andrew Rasiej at SOPA protest
Andrew Rasiej at SOPA protest

More importantly, the legislation amounts to a wholesale re-engineering of the open web in a way that would allow the US government to prosecute Internet users without due process, which in turn would discourage innovation, limit investment, and hurt the our economic future. You can read and hear more about this dangerous and hurtful legislation here: fightforthefuture.org/pipa or americancensorship.org.

As much as we agree that infringing on copyrighted material should be eliminated from the web as much as possible, the cure that is being proposed and championed by the lobbying power of major copyright holding organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will create a cure that is much worse than the disease and irrevocably damage the very nature of the internet and by extension, the future of New York.

We believe it is imperative that we stop this bill from passage!

Andrew Rasiej, Chairman – @rasiej
Scott Heiferman, Founder – @heif
Nate Westheimer, Executive Director – @innonate
Jessica Lawrence, Managing Director – @jessicalawrence
And the Entire NY Tech Meetup Board

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