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Congresswoman asks Reddit community to help write bill targeted at bogus copyright takedowns

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Internet 2012 Bus
Internet 2012 Bus

California Representative Zoe Lofgren has asked Redditors to help draft legislation to protect domains from being erroneously seized for copyright infringement. Lofgren says she was inspired by Reddit's response to SOPA — not only was Reddit one of the most prominent sites to black out in protest of the copyright enforcement bill, it attempted to crowdsource its own alternative. More recently, it launched the "Internet 2012 Bus" to lobby for tech issues.

"I promise to carefully consider all recommendations; I can't, of course, promise that every suggestion can be incorporated."

This proposed bill would attempt to build extra checks into the process of seizing a domain for distributing pirated material, requiring the government to "provide notice and an opportunity for website operators to defend themselves prior to seizing or redirecting their domain names." Domain name seizures are allowed under the PRO IP Act, and the Department of Justice has gone after sites that do everything from offer pirated Android apps to stream sports matches. Lofgren, however, cites at least two cases in which domains were held for months with no charges. Rojadirecta and Dajaz1, the sites in question, both had their cases dropped earlier this year, and their seizure has raised questions about how the system is implemented. Redditors are specifically urged to contribute to legislation on the issue, although anyone can voice a suggestion. If you have a suggestion, it looks like email is the best way to get in touch, though it's possible a dedicated feedback system will be announced later.

Specifics of the legislation aside, Lofgren says she will "carefully consider all recommendations; I can't, of course, promise that every suggestion can be incorporated into a bill I'd introduce." Politicians, particularly Barack Obama, have addressed the Reddit userbase, but this looks like one of the first attempts to pull them directly into the legislative process. At the same time, so far, it's not so much "crowdsourcing" as it is a way to get people involved in the often insular process of drafting a bill.