Rogue websites a real threat

Two recent reports by The Hill draw misleading conclusions about the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill to help stop the flow of revenue to websites that steal and sell America’s intellectual property and keep the profits for themselves.  

The first article, “Major software group backs off support for controversial online piracy bill” (Nov. 21), claims the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has “backpedaled” in its support of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The truth is that BSA had never endorsed or opposed the bill but does share the House Judiciary Committee’s commitment to enacting effective legislation and is working to make changes that will enable the organization to fully support the bill.

The second article, “Recording industry touts bipartisan backing for Internet copyright bill” (Nov. 22), lauds the Senate’s Protect IP Act, but fails to mention that the Stop Online Piracy Act has similar broad support in the House and across the country. Its co-sponsors include 14 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The bill also has broad industry support, including from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Copyright Alliance, Comcast and Go Daddy, to name a few.  

Articles that serve only to exaggerate opposition do not tell the whole story. The problem of rogue sites is real, immediate and widespread. Many Americans do not realize that there is a vast virtual market online run by criminals who steal and sell America’s intellectual property. Movies and music are not the only stolen products that are offered by rogue sites — counterfeit medicine, automotive parts and even baby food are a big part of the counterfeiting business and pose a serious threat to the health of American consumers.

Because the U.S. produces the most intellectual property, our nation has the most to lose if we fail to address the problem. Rogue websites not only steal our IP, they steal the profits and jobs that belong to American innovators. 

From Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Washington, D.C.

Nuclear power has risks

Christine Todd Whitman certainly has a right to voice her opinion about nuclear power (“Nuclear power needs to remain central to our energy mix,” Nov. 16). But your readers have a right to know that she is a paid spokeswoman for the nuclear industry — and The Hill has the responsibility to inform them of that fact. 

 For the last five years, Whitman has been plugging nuclear power as co-chairwoman of the benignly named Clean and Safe Energy Coalition. She rarely, if ever, mentions that the coalition — not much more than a website with a list of utilities, businesses and unions with a financial stake in nuclear power — was founded and is solely funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association. NEI paid the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton a reported $8 million in 2006 to promote a nuclear “renaissance.” H&K then launched the phony grassroots coalition and tapped Whitman to front for it. 

Your readers won’t hear from Whitman the fact that a Fukushima-like accident could happen here. They won’t hear about lax government oversight or the nuclear industry’s chronic failure to meet safety regulations. And they won’t hear that it would cost as much as $10 billion to build a new reactor or that Wall Street won’t finance one without a massive federal loan guarantee because of the industry’s terrible financial track record. That’s because Whitman is paid to put a positive spin on an industry that would prefer the public not know about its serious safety, security and cost-containment problems. 

From Elliott Negin, director of news and commentary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, D.C.

A missed opportunity

The failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach a deal to close our budget gap means automatic and deep cuts to conservation programs, and shows just how far out of line the values of Congress are with the American people.

The Joint Committee missed a historic opportunity to solve our federal deficit issues in a manner that protects clean air, clean water and healthy communities. Instead of cutting wasteful tax subsidies to industries such as oil and gas that have seen record profits, they have chosen to sacrifice programs that benefit millions of Americans every day in the form of sustainable jobs, health and overall quality of life.

Critical conservation programs have already been cut deeply and disproportionately over the past year. These recent cuts could prove crippling and unravel decades of conservation progress that are vital to our nation’s future.

I am extremely disappointed by Congress’s missed opportunity to restore not just fiscal but moral balance to our budget.

From Robyn Carmichael, Washington, D.C.