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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. The Internet is a key engine of today’s economy, 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.
(In alphabetical order by name, followed by companies either founded or where one was in a job-creating executive role)
Nuzzel, Founders Den, Socializr, Friendster, HotLinks
Covestor, Virgin Money USA, CircleLending
SurveyMonkey, TripIt, Yahoo
Capital Factory, OtherInbox, UnsubCentral, SKYLIST
Yesware Inc., WGR Media
XL Marketing, Caridian Marketing Labs
Course Zero Automation, Motion Arcade
Plastic Jungle, Blackhawk Network, Reactrix, Soliloquy Learning, ZapMe! Corporation, YES! Entertainment
Lyris, Magnatune, BookMooch
Lingt Language, EveryArt
OpenAppMkt, Omigosh LLC, Gabbly.com
iLoding, Market Diligence, CEO Research, New Era Strategies
Triggit, Votes For Students, Coelius Enterprises
Proper Suit, Data Marketplace, Maggwire
Jetpac, Dipity, Yahoo!
Luminate, Digg, Federated Media, MySimon
Fowlsound Productions, Soapbox Coffee, Inc.
Simply Continuous, Telphia
Vivid Studios, Loomia, Iron.io
BigDates, ASAM International
High Speed Access Corp, Darwin Networks, Nomad Innovations
TargetSpot, XMPie, WhenU, GoCargo
Department of Behavior and Logic, Secret Level, MagicArts
Percolate, Federated Media
LifeShield, Verticalnet, Nutrisystem
Jack Herbeck Jr.
Elroynet, Blu Zone
Factual, Navigating Cancer, Applied Semantics
LinkedIn, Paypal, Socialnet, Investor in many more, including Facebook, Zynga & GroupOn
Neoteny, Digital Garage, Investor in many more including Twitter, Flickr, Kickstarter, Six Apart, Technorati and over 20 other US companies
Three Rings Design
Standing Cloud, eCortex, Xaffire
Sincerely.com, AppNinjas, Xobni, Pairwise
Kerton Group, Telecom Council of Silicon Valley
Clickable, SmartRay Network, THINK New Ideas, Net-X
elicit, House Party, Jupiter
HavenCo, Blue Iraq, Cryptoseal
Twilio, Nine Star, Stubhub, Versity
AxialMarket, Gerson Lehrman Group
Bluelight.com, Redbooth, Spigot, Founders Den
Stellar Semiconductor, Cryptic Studios
Boxbe, Leverage Information Systems
Ness Computing, HeroEX, AD-Village
OneTrueFan, Gnip, MyBlogLog, IGN
SeatMe, Heavy Electrons, SNOCAP, Web Services Inc
DoubleClick, BusinessInsider, Gilt Groupe, 10gen
Simulmedia, TACODA, Real Media
Caffeinated Mind Inc.
GetSatisfaction, Rubyred Labs
GetSatisfaction, NewsGator, Teqlo, Investor in many more
ThisNext, Stamps.com, TrueCar
Breadpig, Hipmunk, Reddit
Disconnect, Oppenheim Law
O'Reilly Media, Safari Books Online, Collabnet, Investor in many more
Chirply, Zattoo, Sennari
Zynga, Tribe Networks, SupportSoft, FreeLoader
PowerSportsStore, AppMentor, FoodTrux, Custora
140Conf, Pulver.com, Vonage, Free World Dialup, VON Coalition, Vivox
Omniar, Lookery, MyBlogLog, Feedster, Fresher, Fotonation, Torque Systems
BuyAds.com, isocket, Maven Ventures, Lythargic Media, electronicfood.com
DAR.fm, mp3tunes.com, Gizmo5, Linspire, mp3.com
TopSpin, MediaCode, FISTFULAYEN, NullSoft/AOL, Yahoo! Music
ChapterThree, MissionBicycle, GetPantheon
Midnight Networks, NorthStar Internetworking, Burning Blue Aviation, New England Free Skies Association, Lifting Mind, Analog Devices, Teradyne, Ipanema Technologies, Linear Air
Tuneprint, MixApp, Honeycomb Guide
HotelTonight, DealBase, SideStep, TravelPost
Daylife, The Accelerator Group, Firefly Network
LinkSmart, DailyCandy, Alexblake.com, Shop.Eonline.com
Oddcast, Ksolo Karaoke, TargetSpot, YouNow
Agile Learning Labs
Blekko, Topix, NewHoo
StackExchange, Fog Creek Software
Whiskey Media, Listen.com/Rhapsody, CNET
ClariNet Communications, Looking Glass Software, Caller App Inc.
Lockify, ARC eConsultancy
Lascaux, NYTimes.com, Behavior Design
Castfire, Three Deep
Smartling, eMusic, RunTime Technologies, Trio Development
Blogger, Twitter, Obvious
Worcester LLC, Participatory Culture Foundation
DataWorks, E-coSearch, AdPassage, Impulse! Buy Network, Kinecta, Impermium, First Virtual Holdings, Revere Data, Tribe Networks
Infochimps, Floor64, CNET, mySimon
PBWorks, Ustream, Symphoniq
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&
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
 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