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Hollywood versus the Internet

RUSS REPORT - For more than a year, Mainstream Media has been silent on what many are calling a “Hollywood v the Internet” Bill making its way through Congress.

The “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA), or House Bill 3261, initially introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) and 12 initial co-sponsors on October 26, 2011 that would give the green light to the Department of Justice to take action against websites outside United States Jurisdiction that are accused of copyright infringement or enabling copyright infringement.


The “Protect IP Act” (PIPA), or Senate Bill 968 (LINK), sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 11 co-sponsors on May 12, 2011, would give the US Government additional tools to pursue copyright infringements on websites registered outside the US.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that PIPA, alone, would cost taxpayers nearly $47 million over the next five years but the private sector could be on the hook for “many times over” that amount.

The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit public interest/ educational organization representing a host of artists including NBC Universal, the National Association of Broadcasters, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, Sony and News Corp, to name a few.

Sandra Aistars, Copyright Alliance Executive Director said, “We are concerned that all the rhetoric surrounding the bills entirely ignores the plight of individual artists and creators. In particular we are extremely concerned about the OPEN Act because it would leave individual artists and creators in a worse situation than they face now, establishing entirely illusory remedies that are geared only to the largest of corporate interests - and offering inadequate protection even for those.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) weighed in on the bills scheduled for vote on January 24, 2012. It says, “The government would be able to force ISPs and search engines to block users' attempts to reach certain websites' URLs. In response, third parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet (not just the newly censored U.S. version), which will create new computer security vulnerabilities, as the Internet grows increasingly balkanized. The blacklist bills' provisions would give corporations and other private parties new powers to censor foreign websites with court orders that would cut off payment processors and advertisers. Broad immunity provisions (combined with a threat of litigation) would encourage service providers to over block innocent users or even block websites voluntarily. This gives content companies every incentive to create unofficial blacklists of websites, which service providers would be under pressure to block without regard to the First Amendment.”

David Drummond, Google Senior VP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, echoed the concerns of EFF and has joined Wikipedia, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Mozilla and other Internet companies in speaking out against SOPA and PIPA.

“There are better ways to address piracy than to ask U.S. companies to censor the Internet. The foreign rogue sites are in it for the money, and we believe the best way to shut them down is to cut off their sources of funding. As a result, Google supports alternative approaches like the OPEN Act,” said Drummond.

Rep. Darrell Issa Wednesday officially introduced H.R. 3782, the OPEN (Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade) Act on January 18, 2012. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Bill in the Senate.
The Open Act seeks to “To amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to address unfair trade practices relating to infringement of copyrights and trademarks by certain Internet sites and for other purposes.”    

Websites all over the Internet are advocating that all Americans contact their respective members of Congress and let your voice be heard.

(Katharine Russ is an investigative reporter. She is a regular contributor to CityWatch and to the North Valley Reporter. Katharine Russ can be reached at     Katharine.russ@charter.netThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) –cw

Vol 10 Issue 6
Pub: Jan 19, 2012