Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), introduced by a group of lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee last month came under fire from web giants Google and Yahoo after the hearing of the House Bill yesterday, Wednesday. If approved, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would give the FBI the power to shut down websites outside the USA for placing pirated content. It may look well and good but critics of the Bill including Google and Yahoo pointed out that the Bill was unrealistically harsh and might pull down legitimate websites should pirated materials be place without their knowledge.
“Inexplicably, and almost overnight, SOPA has morphed into a full-on assault against lawful U.S. Internet companies,” said Markham C. Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a group representing Web firms and public interest groups opposed to the law.
Because of SOPA, Yahoo discretely canceled it’s membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Google and the Conumer Electronics Association just might just follow suit.
However the US Chamber of Commerce has cited that a significant amount of money amounting to around $135 billion is lost to piracy and counterfeiting.
“Millions of American jobs hang in the balance, and our efforts to protect America’s intellectual property are critical to our economy’s long-term success,” Conyers said in a statement. Hollywood, media firms and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce immediately hailed the bill, saying the government needs to take a stronger stance to prevent the rampant illegal use of online content.
“Over 2 million Americans across all 50 states earn a living and support their families in jobs connected to the making of motion pictures and television shows. They deserve better than to see their work stolen out from under them by criminals out to make a profit,” said Michael O’Leary, executive vice president for government affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America. “This legislation hits rogue sites where it hurts: their access to American consumers and to the financial services they use to make money.”
Yet if the Bill should push through, web sites that offer online services would likely suffer from this law. However, contrary to claims, the Chamber has yet to substantiate the amount of loss dealt be these companies.
Are online piracy and copyright infringement hurting the economy? It’s always been hard to find solid evidence on this score. The copyright industry — record companies, movie studios, software makers — is always citing reports suggesting that IP infringement is destroying 750,000 jobs per year or costing U.S. companies $200 billion. But as the Government Accountability Office found last year, most of these claims “cannot be substantiated.”