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SOPA Copyright Bill Hearing Suggests Uphill Battle for Critics

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on November 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Critics of the proposed SOPA copyright law could face an uphill battle in their fight to kill the bill, a House committee hearing suggests.

Intellectual property lawyers, on the other hand, could emerge as big winners.

A Google representative was the only person to testify against the Stop Online Piracy Act during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, the Huffington Post reports.

Committee members were hostile, attacking Google for its role in an online pharmacy scandal earlier this year — “a public declaration that the company’s lobbying might not help to moderate SOPA,” the Post opined.

The hearing came one day after Google joined leading Internet companies Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL, LinkedIn, Mozilla, and Zynga in urging lawmakers to reconsider the SOPA copyright bill and its companion in the Senate, known as PROTECT-IP.

The companies took out a full-page ad in Wednesday's New York Times, stating, "We cannot support these bills as written."

SOPA and PROTECT-IP supporters say the bills will empower copyright holders to curb online infringement. Hollywood studios and recording companies, which are backing the bill, complain they lose more than $130 billion a year because of pirated material posted online.

Under current laws, copyright owners can ask website owners to take down any copyrighted video or audio clips.

Under SOPA, those powers would expand -- allowing copyright owners to ask banks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to pull the plug on websites with pirated content. If the banks or ISPs refuse, copyright owners can take them to court.

That's why the bill, if passed, could be a boon to IP lawyers -- "guaranteeing a flood of work, no matter which party wins the case," the Huffington Post suggests.

Though it's not clear when Congress will vote on the SOPA copyright bill, Google and other tech giants vow to continue their efforts to stop the bill from moving forward, or to get it substantially changed. The SOPA copyright battle is nowhere near over.

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