The tech super giants that threw their weight behind a bill in congress that could encourage censorship online last week are retreating after practically all of the Internet came out against the bill.The Business Software Alliance, which has Apple, Adobe, Microsoft and others as members, issued a statement today saying the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) “needs work” before it passes through congress.
SOPA, along with the PROTECT IP act in the Senate, give content-producing companies the right to order a take down for a website that they believe is infringing on a copyright. If you even host links to content that infringes on a copyright, you have to take it down.
If not, the copyright owner can request that the infringing site has its advertising and transaction revenue cut off. Or it can request that a domain name — like businessinsider.com — be blacklisted and rendered inaccessible.
Here’s the statement:
When House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and his bipartisan cosponsors last month introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), I said in a press statement that the bill would have to balance key innovation, privacy and security considerations with the need to thwart the threat rogue websites pose before BSA can give its support to SOPA. This remains the case.
Last week, when the Committee held a hearing on SOPA, I listened carefully to Members’ statements and questions as to how this balance would be achieved. It is evident from what I heard that much work remains ahead for the Committee.
I believe the bill’s basic goals should be to promote creativity — something software and computer companies are very good at — while deterring bad actors that profit from selling copies of software and other works they do not own. BSA firmly believes these goals are compatible and achievable.
The idea behind SOPA, as Chairman Smith explained at last week’s hearing, is to remove pirates’ ability to profit from their theft. We think that is the right approach as long as it is done with a fine touch.
Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors. To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed. Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights cannot be compromised. And the security of networks and communications is indispensable to a thriving Internet economy. Some observers have raised reasonable questions about whether certain SOPA provisions might have unintended consequences in these areas. BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the Internet. All of these concerns should be duly considered and addressed.
BSA stands ready to work with Chairman Smith and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to resolve these issues.