Media Advisory: UVA Law Professor Available to Discuss Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

December 14, 2011

University of Virginia law professor Chris Sprigman, an expert in intellectual property and a Freakonomics blogger on innovation and copyright, is available to discuss the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is currently under review in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chris Sprigman
Chris Sprigman

"Big companies will use SOPA and [the PROTECT IP Act] to squash their smaller competitors," Sprigman said. "The bills are bad Internet policy, and they are, moreover, frankly embarrassing as a violation of the First Amendment."

SOPA's attempt to aggressively protect U.S. intellectual property rights holders has been lauded by many businesses affected by online piracy, but has also come under fire from the online tech industry, civil libertarians and academics who fear the legislation will allow the government to block Internet access, among other concerns.

The bill is slated for markup by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Sprigman also has been following the developments related to the similar PROTECT IP legislation in the U.S. Senate, and the bipartisan OPEN Act, which is an attempt to address some of the concerns of the tech industry.

"It threatens the most vibrant sector of our economy — Internet commerce," according to a letter sent to Congress by 110 professors across the country, including Sprigman. It is directly at odds with the United States' foreign policy of Internet openness, a fact that repressive regimes will seize upon to justify their censorship of the Internet. And it violates the First Amendment."

The full contents of the letter to the House can be viewed here.

Sprigman teaches intellectual property law, antitrust law, competition policy and comparative constitutional law at the University of Virginia School of Law. His scholarship focuses on how legal rules affect innovation and the deployment of new technologies. Sprigman previously served as appellate counsel in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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