Last May, democratic senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill to the senate titled ‘Preventing Real Online Threads to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011’ (PIPA for short). The goal is to broaden the power of government and owners of copyrighted content, giving them the authority to shut down websites that engage in activities constituting piracy and copyright infringement as defined in the bill.
Many corporations wrote to congress in support of the proposed ‘rogue sites’ legislation, with Ford Motor Company listed among them. The letter of endorsement condemns piracy’s negative impact on the American economy and encourages legislation that will curb fraudulent activity and inhibit copyright infringement.
The United States cannot and should not tolerate this criminal activity. Not only are jobs and consumers at risk, but rogue sites contribute absolutely no value to the U.S. marketplace. The operators of rogue sites break laws, do not pay taxes, and skirt accountability.
A similar bill titled the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) has been introduced in October 2011, which builds upon PIPA and details on what is considered illicit activities of piracy and infringement of intellectual property, along with specifics on what can be prosecuted criminally. Due to the similar wording and ultimate intent of the two proposed bills, there was much confusion over who was in support of whom, leading some to believe that Ford Motor Company, who supports PIPA, is now also in favour of SOPA.
Not so, says Ford, who has publicly stated that they do not hold a formal position on SOPA via their official Twitter account.
When asked for clarification on Ford's stance regarding SOPA / PIPA on Google+, the company’s global head of Social Media Scott Monty replied with the following statement:
Ford has expressed the need to protect our intellectual property - there are hordes of counterfeiters out there who make Ford parts and goods that are not officially licensed. Plus, we have a pretty significant commitment to the technology field, with lots of efforts that result in proprietary information that, if it were compromised, would be counter-productive. This hurts our licensees and our customers and is not tolerable. While we want to ensure our IP is protected, we do not encourage legislation that fundamentally changes the Internet.
We have expressed interest in working with Congress to find a balance that keeps the Internet open yet protects intellectual property.
Meanwhile, many websites including Wikipedia and Reddit will be shutting down service for 24 hours on January 18th to protest the proposed legislation, the day unofficially dubbed 'National Blackout Day'.