Mozilla censors itself as part of American Censorship Day
Mozilla has joined with other leading Internet organisations such as AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, Zynga and public interest groups in opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Also known as H.R.3261, SOPA was introduced in the US House of Representatives in October. The organisations have sent Congressional leaders a joint letter expressing their concern with the legislative measures that are being introduced.
The controversial bill sets out new legislation to combat "foreign rogue sites" that engage in copyright infringement but are outside of US jurisdiction. Mozilla will be symbolically censoring its logo on many of non-profit organisation's sites as part of American Censorship Day and has created a page which calls on individuals to take action in opposing the bill, pointing out that "a few infringing links are enough to justify censoring an entire site, blocking good content along with the bad".
In the open letter to Congress, the companies state that while they do support bills' goals to combat "foreign rogue sites that are dedicated to copyright infringement", they believe that at present the bill would expose law-abiding U.S Internet and technology companies "to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites". Because of this, the organisations say that they cannot support the bills as written and urge law makers to consider more targeted legislation.
Mozilla, under the new bill, could have found itself liable for prosecution when it refused to remove an extension from its add-on pages. In May, Mozilla was requested to remove the MAFIAA fire redirector add-on from its which appeared in the wake of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seizures of domain names that the DHS said had been accused of copyright or trademark infringement. The add-on automatically directed users to working domain names for the seized sites.
Mozilla says that opposing SOPA is "a fight for the future of the Internet"; Mozilla's General Counsel explains in a blog posting how the browser maker believes that the act will "chill free expression online, expose Internet users and companies to undue liability, be abused by plaintiffs, and still ultimately fail in its goal to thwart piracy".