Dear Entrepreneur,

If you’d still like to sign this document

Because this is such an important issue, we’re going to leave the signing period open, so we can help register as many concerned entrepreneurs as possible.


To Members of the United States Congress:

The undersigned are 160 entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs and executives who have been involved in 349 technology start-ups, and who have created over 65,000 jobs directly through our companies and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more through the technologies we invented, funded, brought to market and made mainstream.  We write today urging you to reject S.968, the PROTECT IP Act, also known as “PIPA.”  We appreciate the stated purpose of the bill, but we fear that if PIPA is allowed to become law in its present form, it will hurt economic growth and chill innovation in legitimate services that help people create, communicate, and make money online.

It is a truism that small businesses create significant economic growth and jobs, but it is more accurate to say that new businesses, including tech start-ups, are most important.[1] The Internet is a key engine of today’s economy,[2] and much of its economic contribution is attributable to companies that did not even exist 10 or even 5 years ago. The Internet has also created new opportunities for artists and other content creators -- today, there is more content being created by more people on more platforms (including some of our businesses) than ever before.

We are not opposed to copyright or the bill’s intent, but we do not think this bill will actually fulfill copyright’s purpose of encouraging innovation and creativity. While the bill will create uncertainty for many legitimate businesses and in turn undermine innovation and creativity on those services, the dedicated pirates who use and operate “rogue” sites will simply migrate to platforms that conceal their activities.

Our concerns include the following:

PIPA provides a new weapon against legitimate businesses and “rogue” sites alike, and the concern in this context is not merely historical or theoretical. Recent press reports noted that advertising giant WPP’s GroupM subsidiary had put together a list of 2,000 sites that were declared to be “supporting piracy,” on which none of its advertising would be allowed to appear. That list - which was put together with suggestions from GroupM clients -  includes Vibe.com, the online version of the famed Vibe Magazine, founded by Quincy Jones, and a leading publication for the hip hop and R&B community. It also included the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which preserves copies of Web pages in order to fill a similar function as libraries.

When a famous magazine and a library get lumped in with “rogue pirate sites” in this way, it’s not hard to see how an overzealous copyright holder might seek to shut legitimate businesses down through PIPA.

PIPA would put new burdens and possible liability on independent third parties, including payment processors, advertising firms, information location tools and others.  The definitions here are incredibly vague, and many companies signed below could fall under the broad definitions of “information location tools,” meaning costly changes to their infrastructure, including how we remain in compliance with blocking orders on an ever-changing Internet.

Separately, including a private right of action means that any rightsholder can tie up a service provider in costly legal action, even if it eventually turns out to not be valid.  Given the broad definitions used above for sites “supporting piracy,” it’s not difficult to predict that plenty of legitimate startups may end up having to spend time, money and resources to deal with such actions.  

These burdens will be particularly intense for small businesses who can’t easily afford the legal fees, infrastructure costs or staff required to remain in compliance with broadly worded laws in a rapidly changing ecosystem.

Legitimate services already do their part by following the notice-and-takedown system of the DMCA. While we take these types of legal responsibilities seriously and already take on costs to do so, that’s no reason to pile on additional regulations.

As Web entrepreneurs and Web users, we want to ensure that artists and great creative content can thrive online. But this isn’t the right way to address the underlying issue.  Introducing this new regulatory weapon into the piracy arms race won’t stop the arms race, but it will ensure there will be more collateral damage along the way.  There are certainly challenges to succeeding as a content creator online, but the opportunities are far greater than the challenges, and the best way to address the latter is to create more of the former.

In other words, innovation in the form of more content tools, platforms and services is the right way to address piracy -- while also creating new jobs and fueling economic growth. Entrepreneurs like us can help do that; PIPA can’t.

Sincerely,

(In alphabetical order by name, followed by companies either founded or where one was in a job-creating executive role)

Jonathan Abrams

Nuzzel, Founders Den, Socializr, Friendster, HotLinks

Asheesh Advani

Covestor, Virgin Money USA, CircleLending

David Albert

Hackruiter

Will Aldrich

SurveyMonkey, TripIt, Yahoo

Courtland Allen

Syphir, Tyrant

Lloyd Armbrust

OwnLocal.com

Jean Aw

NOTCOT Inc.

Joshua Baer

Capital Factory, OtherInbox, UnsubCentral, SKYLIST

Andy Baio

Upcoming, Kickstarter

Edward Baker

Friend.ly

David Barrett

Expensify

Jonathan Baudanza

beatlab.com, Rupture

Katia Beauchamp

Birchbox

Idan Beck

Incident Technologies

Justin Beck

PerBlue

Matthew Bellows

Yesware Inc., WGR Media

David Berger

XL Marketing, Caridian Marketing Labs

Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock

Hackruiter

Ted Blackman

Course Zero Automation, Motion Arcade

Matthew Blumberg

MovieFone, ReturnPath

Nic Borg

Edmodo

Bruce Bower

Plastic Jungle, Blackhawk Network, Reactrix, Soliloquy Learning, ZapMe! Corporation, YES! Entertainment

Josh Buckley

MinoMonsters

John Buckman

Lyris, Magnatune, BookMooch

Justin Cannon

Lingt Language, EveryArt

Teck Chia

OpenAppMkt, Omigosh LLC, Gabbly.com

Bill Clerico

WePay

Michael Clouser

iLoding, Market Diligence, CEO Research, New Era Strategies

Zach Coelius

Triggit, Votes For Students, Coelius Enterprises

John Collison

Stripe

Ben Congleton

Olark, Nethernet

Dave Copps

PureDiscovery, Engenium

Jon Crawford

Storenvy

Dennis Crowley

Foursquare, Dodgeball

Angus Davis

Swipely, Tellme

Eric DeMenthon

PadMapper.com

Steve DeWald

Proper Suit, Data Marketplace, Maggwire

Chad Dickerson

Etsy

Suhail Doshi

Mixpanel

Natalie Downe

Lanyrd Inc.

Nick Ducoff

Infochimps

Derek Dukes

Jetpac, Dipity, Yahoo!

Jennifer Dulski

The Dealmap

Rod Ebrahimi

ReadyForZero, DirectHost

Chas Edwards

Luminate, Digg, Federated Media, MySimon

Dale Emmons

Vidmakr

David Federlein

Fowlsound Productions, Soapbox Coffee, Inc.

Mark Fletcher

ONElist, Bloglines

Andrew Fong

Kirkland North

Tom Frangione

Simply Continuous, Telphia

Brian Frank

Live Colony

Ken Fromm

Vivid Studios, Loomia, Iron.io

Nasser Gaemi

BigDates, ASAM International

Matt Galligan

SimpleGeo, SocialThing

Zachary Garbow

Funeral Innovations

Jud Gardner

Comprehend Systems

David Gibbs

High Speed Access Corp, Darwin Networks, Nomad Innovations

Christopher Golda

BackType

Eyal Goldwerger

TargetSpot, XMPie, WhenU, GoCargo

Jude Gomila

Heyzap

Jeremy Gordon

Department of Behavior and Logic, Secret Level, MagicArts

Steve Greenwood

drop.io

James Gross

Percolate, Federated Media

Sean Grove

Bushido, Inc.

Anupam Gupta

Mixpo

Mike Hagan

LifeShield, Verticalnet, Nutrisystem

Tony Haile

Chartbeat, Chi.mp

Jared Hansen

Breezy

Scott Heiferman

Meetup, Fotolog

Jack Herbeck Jr.

Elroynet, Blu Zone

Eva Ho

Factual, Navigating Cancer, Applied Semantics

Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn, Paypal, Socialnet, Investor in many more, including Facebook, Zynga & GroupOn

Jason Huggins

Blu Zone

Ben Ifeld

Macer Media

Joichi Ito

Neoteny, Digital Garage, Investor in many more including Twitter, Flickr, Kickstarter, Six Apart, Technorati and over 20 other US companies

Jason Jacobs

FitnessKeeper

Daniel James

Three Rings Design

David Jilk

Standing Cloud, eCortex, Xaffire

Noah Kagan

Appsumo, GetGambit

Bill Kallman

Scayl, Varolii

Jon Karl

iovation, ieLogic

Michael Karnjanaprakorn

Skillshare

Bryan Kennedy

Sincerely.com, AppNinjas, Xobni, Pairwise

Derek Kerton

Kerton Group, Telecom Council of Silicon Valley

Drew Kese

Ecount, Orocast

David Kidder

Clickable, SmartRay Network, THINK New Ideas, Net-X

Eric Koger

ModCloth

Kitty Kolding

elicit, House Party, Jupiter

Pete Koomen

Optimizely, CarrotSticks

Brian Krausz

GazeHawk

Amit Kumar

Socialscope

Ryan Lackey

HavenCo, Blue Iraq, Cryptoseal

Jeff Lawson

Twilio, Nine Star, Stubhub, Versity

Peter Lehrman

AxialMarket, Gerson Lehrman Group

Michael Levit

Bluelight.com, Redbooth, Spigot, Founders Den

Michael Lewis

Stellar Semiconductor, Cryptic Studios

Thede Loder

Boxbe, Leverage Information Systems

Marissa Louie

Ness Computing, HeroEX, AD-Village

Eric Marcoullier

OneTrueFan, Gnip, MyBlogLog, IGN

Michael Masnick

Floor64

Jordan Mendelson

SeatMe, Heavy Electrons, SNOCAP, Web Services Inc

Dwight Merriman

DoubleClick, BusinessInsider, Gilt Groupe, 10gen

Scott Milliken

MixRank.com

Michael Montano

BackType

Dave Morgan

Simulmedia, TACODA, Real Media

Zac Morris

Caffeinated Mind Inc.

Rick Morrison

Comprehend Systems

Amy Muller

GetSatisfaction, Rubyred Labs

Darren Nix

Silver Financial

Jeff Nolan

GetSatisfaction, NewsGator, Teqlo, Investor in many more

Craig Ogg

ThisNext, Stamps.com, TrueCar

Alexis Ohanian

Breadpig, Hipmunk, Reddit

Casey Oppenheim

Disconnect, Oppenheim Law

Tim O’Reilly

O'Reilly Media, Safari Books Online, Collabnet, Investor in many more

MIchael Ossareh

Heysan

Gagan Palrecha

Chirply, Zattoo, Sennari

Scott Petry

Authentic8, Postini

Mark Pincus

Zynga, Tribe Networks, SupportSoft, FreeLoader

Chris Poole

4chan, Canvas

Jon Pospischil

PowerSportsStore, AppMentor, FoodTrux, Custora

Jeff Powers

Occipital

Jeff Pulver

140Conf, Pulver.com, Vonage, Free World Dialup, VON Coalition, Vivox

Scott Rafer

Omniar, Lookery, MyBlogLog, Feedster, Fresher, Fotonation, Torque Systems

John Ramey

BuyAds.com, isocket, Maven Ventures, Lythargic Media, electronicfood.com

Vikas Reddy

Occipital

Michael Robertson

DAR.fm, mp3tunes.com, Gizmo5, Linspire, mp3.com

Ian Rogers

TopSpin, MediaCode, FISTFULAYEN, NullSoft/AOL, Yahoo! Music

Avner Ronen

Boxee, Odigo

Zack Rosen

ChapterThree, MissionBicycle, GetPantheon

Oliver Roup

VigLink

Slava Rubin

IndieGoGo

David Rusenko

Weebly

Arram Sabeti

ZeroCater

Peter Schmidt

Midnight Networks, NorthStar Internetworking, Burning Blue Aviation, New England Free Skies Association, Lifting Mind, Analog Devices, Teradyne, Ipanema Technologies, Linear Air

Geoff Schmidt

Tuneprint, MixApp, Honeycomb Guide

Sam Shank

HotelTonight, DealBase, SideStep, TravelPost

Upendra Shardanand

Daylife, The Accelerator Group, Firefly Network

Emmett Shear

Justin.tv

Pete Sheinbaum

LinkSmart, DailyCandy, Alexblake.com, Shop.Eonline.com

Chris Shipley

Guidewire Group

Adi Sideman

Oddcast, Ksolo Karaoke, TargetSpot, YouNow

Chris Sims

Agile Learning Labs

Dan Siroker

Optimizely, CarrotSticks

Rich Skrenta

Blekko, Topix, NewHoo

Bostjan Spetic

Zemanta

Joel Spolsky

StackExchange, Fog Creek Software

Josh Stansfied

Incident Technologies

Mike Tatum

Whiskey Media, Listen.com/Rhapsody, CNET

Brad Templeton

ClariNet Communications, Looking Glass Software, Caller App Inc.

Jack Templin

Lockify, ARC eConsultancy

Craig Tumblison

Bitcove

Khoi Vinh

Lascaux, NYTimes.com, Behavior Design

Joseph Walla

HelloFax

Brian Walsh

Castfire, Three Deep

David Weekly

PBWorks

Jack Welde

Smartling, eMusic, RunTime Technologies, Trio Development

Jeff Widman

PageLever, BrandGlue

Evan Williams

Blogger, Twitter, Obvious

Holmes Wilson

Worcester LLC, Participatory Culture Foundation

Pierre-R Wolff

DataWorks, E-coSearch, AdPassage, Impulse! Buy Network, Kinecta, Impermium, First Virtual Holdings, Revere Data, Tribe Networks

Dennis Yang

Infochimps, Floor64, CNET, mySimon

Chris Yeh

PBWorks, Ustream, Symphoniq

Kevin Zettler

Bushido, Inc.

David Zhao

ZumoDrive


[1]See John Haitiwanger et al, Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young, US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Paper No. CES-WP- 10-17  (August 2010), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1666157&

[2]See McKinsey Global Institute, Internet Matters (May 2011), available at http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/internet_matters/pdfs/MGI_internet_matters_full_report.pdf

[3] Security and Other Technical Concerns Raised by the DNS Filtering Requirements in the PROTECT IP Bill” http://domainincite.com/docs/PROTECT-IP-Technical-Whitepaper-Final.pdf