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When it comes to Reddit users, its much better to work with them than against them. And at least one U.S. representative has decided to get proactive.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) has released a new post on her congressional website asking Reddit for help in crafting a new bill about the government’s ability to seize domain names suspected of mass copyright infringement.
“During SOPA I saw firsthand the Reddit community’s strong dedication to free expression. Because of that dedication, I thought I would attempt an experiment: crowdsourcing a legislative proposal on Reddit,” Lofgren wrote. “The goal of the legislation would be to build due process requirements into domain name seizures for copyright infringement. I’d like your thoughts on the proposal.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has conducted two separate sting operations that seized hundreds of domain names that were accused of copyright infringement or piracy. The first operation came about a year ago during the week of Black Friday, and went after digital media pirates (including Megaupload) as well as foreign websites that were selling counterfeit goods. The second happened just before the 2012 NFL SuperBowl, and focused on seizing sites that illegally live streamed sporting events. In both sting operations, the federal government took ownership of the domain name these organizations were using, which essentially shut them down (at least temporarily).
The practice of seizing domain names is highly criticized by online communities like Reddit because there is no due process involved. Suspected sites have their domain seized without going through trial, and (in the event of a) wrongly seized domain, people aren’t easily able to clear their names and get their websites back up.
Lofgren said she may introduce a new bill that reforms the process of domain seizure due to copyright infringe in the future, which would seemingly address the lack of notice given to sites in danger of being taken by the government.
Lofgren’s letter was submitted to Reddit earlier today, and the congresswoman has responded to some of the comments over the last hour. The submission currently has 84 “upvotes” and 25 comments — far less than some of the other politician’s who’ve taken to Reddit to further their causes. However, Reddit General Manager Erik Martin told me he and the team would be happy to provide the congresswoman with tips to get a better response in the future, should she reach out.
This isn’t the first time a politician has asked Reddit for help on a bill. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) has done a handful of AMAs (ask me anything) to help people understand unpopular legislation like SOPA, PIPA, and international treaty ACTA.
Photo via Rep. Lofgren’s website