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Google, Facebook Oppose SOPA Copyright Bill

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on November 16, 2011 5:43 AM

A number of Silicon Valley heavyweights joined forces on Tuesday to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), a new bill introduced late last month. Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Yahoo, AOL, Zynga and LinkedIn are urging members of the House Judiciary Committee to reconsider the bill, which they say will curb innovation and job-creation.

Known as the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate (S. 968), the bill is an attempt to give intellectual property holders a better way to fight foreign websites that infringe on American intellectual property. But critics believe that it creates new liabilities and may force some service providers to engage in censorship.

As written, the Stop Online Piracy Act will do the following:

  • Require ISPs, advertisers and credit card companies to stop servicing infringing websites at the request of a rights-holder.
  • Give the Attorney General power to seek a court order that requires search engines and ISPs to block access to offending websites.
  • Make it a felony to engage in the unauthorized online streaming of content.
  • Remove the DMCA safe harbor provisions for ISPs acting in good faith.

Google and company primarily focused on the DMCA safe harbor, which they called a "cornerstone of the U.S. Internet and technology industry's growth and success." Many of these companies would be weighed down in copyright lawsuits without the provision.

They'd also spend a significant amount of time monitoring user content, or shying away from potentially innovative projects. In fact, YouTube would probably not exist without the DMCA exception.

But again, a number of proponents believe that the Stop Online Privacy Act will encourage users to purchase goods and content from legitimate sites. By impeding access to counterfeit goods, the government can protect American jobs.

There's no right answer here, but with criticism from both parties and the nation's top innovators, it seems like the Stop Online Privacy will undergo changes soon.

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