Both Parties To Launch SOPA: Internet Censorship Bill

Democrats and Republicans joined together at a House Judiciary Committee to voice for support for legislation that would criminalize much of the activity that surfing the Internet (the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act).

Google faced troubles for directing consumers to unregulated online pharmacies and had to pay compensation in $500 million. Photo: ACS Project/ Flickr

As the most ardent advocates for the Stop Online Piracy Act gathered to offer their best solutions of the much-maligned bill, virtually all others angling to speak against it were locked out of the hearing, according to the privacy and free speech group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

SOPA is to establish new powers for corporations’ intent to control copyrighted materials. That may lead to huge legal bills for start-ups and Silicon Valley giants.

This bill (US Senate Bill S.968) will give corporations the power to shut down any websites having broken the rights of copyright holders.

What this PROTECT IP is aiming to achieve:

– Curb access to “”rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”

–  Disable websites:  “information location tool shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible, to remove or disable access to the Internet site associated with the domain name set forth in the order”. In addition, it must delete all hyperlinks to the offending “Internet site.”

 If passed, they will simply ruin the freedom of the Internet, moreover, dozens of social media sites with user-uploaded content will be lost, including Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr. Dozens of companies have banded together to claim 11/16/11 as American Censorship Day. Tumblr has taken the most aggressive action against this censorship by adding a banner with a link to contact a US representative.

The acceptance of this bill will also possibly hit the balance of power over the Internet.

Such copyright owners as TV networks and Hollywood studios urged websites to take down pirated videos. Moreover, they could also ask banks, Internet service providers and domain name registrars to stop doing business with websites that was caught red-handed while piracy. They may go to YouTube’s domain registration company and demand YouTube website be taken down. In case the registrar refused, the copyright owners would have the powers to take the registrar to court.

 “The key problem with SOPA is that it seeks to allow any copyright holder to sever any website’s relationship with online advertising networks or credit card processing services, simply by pointing the finger,” technology publication site said.

Both Democrats and Republicans are for passing the legislation. The Senate version, introduced in May, has got huge support, but has been held up only by Sen. Ron Wyden. Without Wyden’s taking part, the legislation seems certain to pass by a landslide. The House version, presented last month, was written by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and co-sponsored by ranking member John Conyers.

“The theft of American intellectual property costs the American economy over $100 billion annually … and thousands of American jobs,” Smith announced at hearing on Wednesday.

“I am very pleased that this is a bipartisan bill, and I think that that’s very important,” Conyers agreed.

The only detractor allowed to speak during congressional hearing was Google — and its lead counsel on copyright policy instead recommended the model of censorship that anti-secrecy, like WikiLeaks is currently using: a voluntary banking blockade, instead of one mandated by law.

Unfortunately, Google faced troubles for directing consumers to unregulated online pharmacies. The company had to pay a $500 million fine in August to settle complaints involving illicit online pharmacies from the Department of Justice and the Food and Drug Administration.

So, members of both parties piled on Wednesday, banging away at Google for the pharmacy scandal — a public declaration that the lobbying of the company wouldn’t help to moderate SOPA. [Via Huff Post and The Raw Story]

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