Protecting Our Men and Women in Uniform from Profiteers

We should not allow another Congress to conclude without ensuring that our troops and their families are protected from profiteers.  Currently, the exploitation of our troops' names and images is allowed in commercial endeavors.  For this reason, I introduced H.R. 5755, the Soldiers Targeted by Offensive Profiteering (STOP) Act, which will require that our troops or the families of our fallen soldiers give written permission for any commercial use of their name or image in connection with their military service.

The STOP Act directs the Secretary of Defense to prohibit the unauthorized use of a soldier's name and image in commercial activities, and gives the Attorney General the authority to seek an injunction for violations.  H.R. 5755 has 94 cosponsors in the House - 50 Democrats and 44 Republicans - and has gained wide support from the veteran and military communities, including endorsements from the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of America.

The STOP Act isn't about supporting the war or opposing it.  It's about respecting the rights of our men and women in uniform.  Our soldiers serve, and some give their lives, to protect the freedoms we enjoy today.  At the core of those freedoms is freedom of speech guaranteed in the First Amendment.  I would not dream of going against everything these men and women are bravely fighting for by trampling on that right.  The bill specifically targets commercial speech.  It would only apply to people selling merchandise containing the names or images of our soldiers.

This bill isn't about financial restitution or even putting more people in prison.  It's about getting these vendors to respect the privacy of our soldiers and their families.  Nobody has the right to put the name or image of another private individual on a T-shirt or bumper sticker and sell it for a profit.