SOPA: Internet Piracy Bill Criticized as Internet Censorship

Nov 16, 2011 6:03pm
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SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act — has been presented in the House of Representatives as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others whose music and films are taken and copied online. There was a hearing on it today. Its Senate counterpart is called the Protect IP Act.

But others are calling them flawed bills that would lead to Internet censorship.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the bills would overdo it — giving copyright holders and government the power to cut off websites unreasonably. They could be shut down, and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo could be stopped from linking to them.

“The solutions are draconian,” Schmidt said Tuesday at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “There’s a bill that would require ISPs [Internet service providers] to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.”

That said, Schmidt granted that Hollywood studios have a real problem — people are pirating their movies and threatening their business. The Motion Picture Association of America has posted promos on YouTube to plead its case.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and sponsored SOPA, has said his bill will help “stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.”

Now Tumblr, the microblogging website, has joined the opposition to the bills with a page called “Protect the Net.”

“As written, they would betray more than a decade of US policy and advocacy of Internet freedom,” said a statement on Tumblr, “by establishing a censorship system using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran.”

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