Internet Governance

Calling Your Senators about PIPA is Easier Than You Think

If you’re a subscriber to ServInt’s Twitter feed, you may have noticed we’ve tweeted nearly 30 separate “PIPA Facts” today.  We did this because we wanted to empower all our online friends and colleagues with easy-to-remember information that would make phone calls to their senators as quick and painless as possible.

It’s easy to get scared off when people ask you to upgrade your protests against bad policy from the virtual to the real world.  Tweeting and changing your Facebook status seems so much easier than actually picking up the phone and talking to somebody — somebody who you might feel understands the bill in question better than you do.

But that’s where you’re wrong.  The fact is, your elected representatives almost always know a lot less than you do about what you do for a living — and they actually want you to help them understand how legislation will affect businesses in their state or district.

Calls to your elected representatives don’t have to take long.  A few well-informed points, contained in a few simple sentences, are really what they’re seeking, and they’re what will make the difference.  It’s easy.

So here’s what we need you to do — preferably tomorrow, but certainly no later than Monday, Jan. 23:

  1. Head over to and follow the instructions for connecting to your senator’s office.
  2. When you get an answer, speak to the person on the other end of the line just as you would if you were talking to a business colleague — be friendly and polite, but (most important) just be yourself.  Let them know you have real concerns about the Protect IP Act, or “PIPA” — concerns that it may adversely impact your business, and others like yours.  If possible, share how many jobs might be in jeopardy if the bill passes.
  3. If you want, feel free to choose any three or four points from the collection of “PIPA Facts” we tweeted today.  For your convenience, they’re collected below.
  4. Don’t be surprised if the staffers on the other end of the line want to engage you in a short conversation about the bill.  Just remember that they’re asking you questions because they understand it even less than you do, and they want to learn more.  They won’t challenge you on it.  Help them to the degree you can — nobody is expecting you to be an expert.  They just want to hear from real people in their state about how the bill will impact their businesses.

One last point: I can’t stress strongly enough how powerful a phone call can be in turning the tide against bad legislation.  Believe me:  the three minutes you spend on the phone will make a huge difference.  Please call between now and January 24, when PIPA comes up for a vitally important “cloture” vote.  We need your help!

PIPA Facts:

  • PIPA Fact: Anybody who tells you that PIPA doesn’t target domestic websites is wrong or lying — see:
  • PIPA Fact: Patent lawsuits have cost innovators $500 billion in the last 20 years. PIPA will kick off the same kind of profiteering for copyrights
  • PIPA Fact: expanding secondary liability in PIPA is a stimulus package for trial lawyers, but will be a disaster for American small businesses
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA would allow the government to block access to any website accused of copyright infringement, without a proper trial
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA will make it easy for businesses to file lawsuits against their rivals just to intimidate them into shutting down
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA has 40 co-sponsors in the Senate. Find out who here:
  • PIPA Fact: The internet community fights piracy diligently on a daily basis under existing law, the DMCA.
  • PIPA Fact: The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows artist revenue grew from 1998-2008, and independent artist revenue grew by more than 43%.  Find the details here:
  • PIPA Fact: The internet adds about $2 trillion to annual GDP and it’s growing quickly. We can’t risk killing it. More detail here:
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA would eliminate legal liability for hosts who pre-emptively take down sites on the suspicion of infringement
  • PIPA Fact: if the government thinks a host hasn’t done enough to restrict access to a site, the host can be charged as an accomplice to the piracy
  • PIPA Fact: Find stats on the very profitable US movie industry here: The MPAA has plenty of time to help craft a decent anti-piracy bill!
  • PIPA Fact: Abuse of copyright protection laws already happens — for more detail, see: It would get much, much worse under PIPA.
  • PIPA Fact: The Internet and old-school entertainment industries are all enjoying healthy growth under existing laws. Again, we have the time to get this legislation right.
  • PIPA Fact: Copyright violations aren’t like most other types of crimes — you often don’t know it when you see it. How can web hosts, site owners and ISPs be expected to police it?
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA grants immunity to providers who cut off accused pirates, so if those claims turn out to be false, only the site suffers
  • PIPA Fact: The best “offense” against piracy is cool new paid platforms that give customers what they want — like iTunes, Spotify, and Netflix
  • PIPA Fact: Many venture capitalists have said they won’t invest in online startups if PIPA and SOPA pass.
  • PIPA Fact: PIPA would essentially outlaw the tools used to circumvent censorship in countries like Iran and China. Read more at:
  • PIPA Fact: Virtual Private Networks, proxies, privacy or anonymization software could all potentially be deemed illegal under PIPA

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