CHICAGO (CBS) — Several members of Illinois’ congressional delegation has come out in opposition to two anti-piracy bills – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) – which are losing support from many members of Congress.
SOPA and PIPA are intended to curb the illegal download of copyrighted materials from websites that allow users to pirate copyrighted material.
It could be an uphill battle in Congress, where several supporters have flipped sides, joining the White House, in opposition to the legislation.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has said he is opposed to PIPA and SOPA.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is a sponsor of PIPA.
U.S. Reps. Aaaron Schock (R-IL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Joe Walsh (R-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Judy Biggert (R-IL) all have come out in opposition to SOPA and PIPA.
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley has straddled the fence, saying he shares concerns about blocking authority in the bills, but has yet to say if he would oppose either bill altogether.
Steven Tepp, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, “These rogue sites are hurting American jobs, stealing American jobs. They’re harming American consumers and they have no business being on the Internet.”
But to stop illegal downloads of movies and other digital content offered at these sites, U.S. search engines like Google and Yahoo would be required to withhold services. Critics, including Google, AOL and Facebook call it censorship.
Ed Black Pres. And CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association said, “If you think of Facebook, if you think of Twitter, if you think of Google and EBay, etc. – people put things, users put things onto company sites and companies can’t control that. Well they could, by censorship; and that’s what we want to avoid.”
Some critics say protecting copyrighted material is OK, but these bills go too far.
Google thinks it’s all about the government being able to censor content. They put a black box over the logo on their website in a show of solidarity.
Wikipedia also took a stand against SOPA, displaying a black screen with the message “Imagine a world without free knowledge” in response to searches of its online encyclopedia – except for searches that go to the SOPA entry on Wikipedia.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia said “In the worst versions of the bill, Wikipedia would be defined as a search engine and we would not be able to even link to something like the Pirate Bay, even in our encyclopedic description of what Pirate Bay is. I think that’s a real problem.”
Several other sites are protesting SOPA and PIPA, which are backed by Hollywood and big media companies in an effort to limit access to copyrighted material on the Internet.
The proposals would allow the Justice Department and copyright holders to seek court orders against foreign websites accused of allowing users to infringe on copyrights. The bills would prohibit online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as credit card companies and PayPal from doing business with an alleged violator.
The bills also would prohibit search engines like Google from linking to such sites.
The original bills would have let copyright holders and Internet service providers block access to pirate websites.
Critics have claimed that would allow copyright holders to interfere in the behind-the-scenes system that seamlessly directs computer users to websites. They said that causing deliberate failures in the lookup system to prevent visits to pirate websites could more easily allow hackers to trick users into inadvertently visiting websites that could infect their computers. The White House also took issue with that approach, saying “We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.”
Responding to the critics, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said he is taking the blocking measure out of his bill. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., also is reworking his bill to address those cybersecurity issues.
PIPA heads to the Senate for a vote on Jan. 24.
There is already legislation that provides some protection for copyrighted material, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires companies to remove copyrighted content “in good faith.”
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