Meanwhile, sites that host user-generated content will be under pressure to closely monitor users’ behavior. That monitoring already happens on larger sites such as YouTube, but it could be a huge liability for startups, the EFF argues.
Some progressive pundits have argued that media companies are trying to legislate their way out of what’s really a business-model problem. “As we’ve seen over and over again, the most successful (by far) ‘attack’ against piracy is awesome new platforms that give customers what they want
, such as Spotify and Netflix,” TechDirt’s Mike Masnick writes
SOPA and PIPA supporters argue that prophecies of a broken Internet are overblown. Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, writes that SOPA clearly defines infringing sites
based on Supreme Court holdings and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and requires rights holders to follow a strict set of rules when trying to get payment cut off to an infringing site. False claims, Sherman argues, “can result in damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees.”
Sherman also points out that previous actions against infringing sites, such as the MGM vs. Grokster case
in 2005, triggered similar doomsday predictions from the tech industry, yet digital music innovation has flourished since then.
Who’s for SOPA and PIPA, and Who’s Against?
Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is the author of SOPA, which is backed by
The White House has expressed concerns
about the bills in their current state, writing in a statement that “any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.”
As for outside parties, the list of SOPA supporters
consists mostly of media companies, including record labels, TV networks, movie studios, and book publishers. Some companies with an interest in fighting sales of other counterfeit goods, such as beauty-product maker Revlon and pharmaceutical company Pfizer, also appear on the list.
Opposition to SOPA and PIPA is strong in the tech sector. An open letter to Washington
speaking out against the legislation was signed by founders of Craigslist, eBay, Google, Mozilla, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others.
In the middle are companies at the intersection of media and technology. Many video game publishers have stayed silent on the matter while their trade group, the Entertainment Software Association, supports the bills. The Business Software Alliance originally supported the bill, butwithdrew its support
after deciding that the legislation went too far. As for Apple and Microsoft, which are both BSA members, the former has not come out publicly for or against SOPA or PIPA, while the latter now says that it opposes SOPA “as currently drafted.”
Where Are SOPA and PIPA Now?
Both bills have taken a hit in the last week, as their authors have decided to remove the provisions that require Internet service providers to block the domain names of infringing sites. SOPA, which has yet to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee, is reportedly stalled
, as lawmakers continue to work on the bill. Representative Darrell Issa (R-California) has proposed an alternative bill that is far more narrow in its focus.
Voting on PIPA, however, is scheduled to begin in the Senate on January 24.
(2pm ET 1/18) Now two U.S. Senators are withdrawing their sponsorships of PIPA. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, wrote on Facebook
that although he has a strong interest in stopping piracy, “we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.” Senator Roy Blunt, of Missouri, also bailed on the bill, writing on Facebook
that “the Protect IP Act is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward