Online Piracy Bill Becomes Major Battle

Lobbyists dig in over controversial SOPA measure
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2011 2:20 PM CST
In this 2010 file photo, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Drew Angerer, File)

(Newser) – A battle is heating up on Capitol Hill over a controversial new bill targeting online piracy. Yesterday Google, Facebook, Yahoo and other web companies took out full-page newspaper ads railing against the House’s recently introduced Stop Online Piracy Act, even as supporters sung its praises at a hearing. “The problem of rogue Web sites is real, immediate and widespread,” said sponsor Lamar Smith. The bill is backed by lobbyists from media and even pharmaceutical companies, who say piracy costs them $135 billion a year, the Washington Post reports.

But tech companies say the bill would cause lawsuits and force them to shut down sites, since it makes them responsible for infringement from their users. Search engines also would be responsible for blocking links to infringing sites, according to the New York Daily News. “Almost overnight, SOPA has morphed into a full-on assault against lawful US Internet companies,” says the director of one industry group. Verizon is opposed, too, complaining that the law would force it to develop new technologies to block foreign piracy sites. (A ZDNet writer thinks SOPA is an awful idea.)

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