The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee slowly moved toward approval of the controversial copyright enforcement bill Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), although the panel was able to debate only about half of the planned amendments to the bill Thursday.
As of 9:15 p.m., the committee, by wide margins, had voted to reject more than 20 amendments meant to address concerns by many members of the technology and civil liberties communities. The hearing will continue into Friday and maybe longer.
The committee rejected an amendment offered by Representative Darrell Issa that would have stripped out controversial provisions in the bill targeting search engines and Internet service providers.
SOPA would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring Internet service providers to filter out the domain names and requiring search engines to block the websites that are accused of infringing copyright. Issa’s amendment would have killed the provisions related to the domain name system.
The committee voted 22-12 against the Issa amendment, in a vote that could foreshadow strong support for SOPA in the committee. The Issa amendment would have removed some of the most contentious parts of SOPA, including concerns that the legislation would cause problems with security in the DNS, supporters argued.
If the committee eventually votes to approve SOPA, the legislation would go to the House floor. The legislation would also have to pass through the Senate before going to President Barack Obama for his signature or veto.
SOPA would empower the DOJ and copyright holders to target news sites that link to allegedly infringing sites, Issa said. Once U.S. authorities start blocking links and censoring Web content, “you start a snowball effect to which there is no end,” he added.
SOPA’s search engine provision would be ineffective, added Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. Even if U.S. search engines block links to foreign websites, it would be simple for Web users to find other search engines, she said. “The fact that we would try to disappear a site on a search engine doesn’t disappear the site,” she said.
SOPA supporters said the other provisions of the bill, which would allow the DOJ and copyright holders to seek court orders blocking payment processors and online advertising networks from doing business with foreign sites accused of infringing copyright, would not be effective enough to fight foreign websites that sell infringing products.
Under U.S. law, there’s a “gaping loophole” shielding foreign websites from the reach of the DOJ, said Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican. “While it continues to be a tremendous, transformational medium, the Internet has also made it easier than ever in the history of the world to steal other’s ideas and works,” he said.
Representative Lamar Smith, the committee chairman and main sponsor of SOPA, said new action is needed to deal with so-called rogue websites based overseas. “The problem of rogue websites is real, immediate and increasing,” Smith said. “It harms companies across the spectrum. And its scope is staggering. The resultant economic losses run into the hundreds of billions of dollars each year.”
U.S. residents have the “most to lose” if Congress does not act, because the U.S. produces more intellectual property than any other country, Smith said. More than 400 companies and groups have voiced support for SOPA, supporters said.
Late Thursday, the committee voted down an amendment that would require copyright holders to pay all court costs, if the copyright holder loses its legal petition to have an accused website declared a copyright infringer. The committee also rejected an amendment to remove lawsuit protections for ISPs, domain name registrars, payment processors and other businesses that voluntarily take action against accused websites.
Issa, Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and other opponents of SOPA asked Smith to delay the markup of the bill and hold a hearing featuring Internet engineers and their views on whether the bill would harm Internet security. The committee has hosted only one hearing on SOPA, and no engineers or security experts testified, Chaffetz said.
Dozens of Internet security experts have raised concerns about the bill and its effect on implementation of DNSSEC, a set of applications designed to secure the domain name system, Chaffetz said. “Maybe we ought to ask some nerds about what this really does,” he said to other committee members. “If you don’t know what DNSSEC is, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
There’s time to have another hearing, Issa added. Copyright infringement is “not a new problem,” he said.
Smith declined to slow the process down. “I have every intention of going forward today, tomorrow and however long it takes,” he said.
The markup hearing will continue into Friday and potentially into the new year after the House returns from its holiday break. The committee, faced with more than 60 proposed amendments to the bill, was able to get through fewer than 10 of them by 5:30 p.m. Thursday in a hearing that began at 10 a.m.
At the beginning of the hearing, Lofgren insisted on the committee’s clerk reading the entire 71-page substitute amendment offered by Smith late Monday. The public didn’t have enough time to digest the amendment before Thursday’s hearing began, she said.
The committee hadn’t voted on Smith’s substitute amendment as of late Thursday.
Late in the day, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, a Texas Democrat, stirred up controversy when she called a tweet by committee member Representative Steve King, an Iowa Republican, “offensive.” King, watching the hearing on television, posted on Twitter that he was so bored by Jackson-Lee’s questions that he was “killing time by surfing the Internet.”
The committee took about 15 minutes to sort out demands by Republicans that Jackson-Lee take back the word, “offensive.” She finally did, instead calling King’s tweet “impolitic and unkind.”
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The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has postponed further debate on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) until after Congress’ holiday break.
At the urging of some SOPA opponents, Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and committee chairman of the bill, said Friday that he will consider a hearing or a classified briefing on its impact on cybersecurity. More than 80 Internet engineers and cybersecurity experts have raised security concerns about the bill, which would require Internet service providers and domain name registrars to block the domain names of foreign websites accused of copyright infringement.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, called for both a classified hearing and a public hearing on the cybersecurity issues. In the lone hearing on SOPA, the committee did not hear from security experts and Internet engineers. “We have deep concerns about what this will do to cybersecurity,” said Chaffetz. “I think it would be dangerous for members on this committee to vote on final passage of this bill without having at least one hearing and some clarification” on the security impact.
The bill markup, a hearing in which lawmakers offer amendments, will continue in January, said Smith. The markup, which ran from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, was interrupted twice by votes on the House floor Friday.
Giant domain name registrar GoDaddy.com has pulled its support from the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act after owners of several websites announced they would take their business elsewhere.
Negative feedback about SOPA from a number of customers forced GoDaddy to take a second look at the legislation, said Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO. Go Daddy has concerns about the free speech and Internet security implications of the legislation, but until now, has worked with lawmakers to address those issues, he said.
“It’s clear to us the bill’s not ready in its current form,” Adelman said Friday. “Looking at this over the last 20 hours, we’re not seeing consensus in the Internet community, we’re hearing the feedback from our customers.”
On Thursday, Reddit user selfprodigy said he was pulling 51 domain names from GoDaddy because of the registrar’s support of SOPA. The same day, Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger family of humor websites said said his company would move its 1,000-plus domains off Go Daddy unless it dropped its support for the bill, known as SOPA.
On Friday, Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales also threatened to move from Go Daddy. “Their position on SOPA is unacceptable to us,” Wales said in a tweet.
With the odds perhaps still against them, two lawmakers who are fighting the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills took their case to the world’s largest consumer electronics gathering.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), have been championing alternative legislation, the Open Act, against two bills that they believe will radically alter the Web .
“This is going to turn websites into Web cops,” said Wyden, of the two bills. SOPA is being pushed in the House of Representatives; PIPA is similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Instead of “three guys in a garage” launching a Web-based business, “you’re going to be three people with an upstairs full of lawyers telling you whether or not you are going to be able to operate a Web site.”
The Consumer Electronics Association, which runs CES, is a leading opponent of SOPA. The fight over this particular bill is part of a long-running battle in Washington between content producers and large parts of the IT industry over how Congress should go about protecting copyright.
The lead sponsor of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act, a controversial copyright enforcement bill, will remove a much-debated provision that would require Internet service providers to block their subscribers from accessing foreign websites accused of infringing the copyrights of U.S. companies.
Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said he will remove the ISP provision from the bill, called SOPA, so that lawmakers can “further examine the issues surrounding this provision.”
Smith’s decision was prompted by discussions with industry groups “across the country,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.”
The ISP provision in SOPA allows the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring service providers to block subscriber access to foreign sites accused by the DOJ of copyright infringement. That provision would be removed, but remaining in the bill would be provisions allowing the DOJ to seek court orders requiring search engines to remove links to sites accused of infringement and requiring online advertising networks and payment processors to stop doing business with the accused sites.
The bill would also allow domain-name registrars to block the foreign websites’ IP addresses on U.S. servers, and it would allow copyright holders to seek court orders against ad networks and payment processors.
Opponents of controversial anti-piracy legislation are gearing up for a major fight in both the House and the Senate as they press for support for an alternative bill they say would avoid draconian measures that, if enacted, could create major security vulnerabilities in the architecture of the Internet.
The two lawmakers leading the charge, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), took to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week to press their case - a fitting setting, as the mammoth trade show gives an annual coming out party for tech firms’ latest innovations. The trade group that puts on the show, the Consumer Electronics Association, has been a vocal member of the lobbying efforts to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), both of which the organization argues would impose dramatic limits on online innovation by exposing Web firms to excessive legal liability in the name of curbing piracy.
“We have been teaming up on this and have been working on this for some time,” Wyden said of his partnership with Issa, who in turn added that the two “in many ways are not predictable partners.”
Wyden and Issa are backing an alternative anti-piracy bill, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, a measure they say would create a more effective path for copyright holders to protect their intellectual property from foreign websites that profit from piracy, while avoiding the disastrous consequences they anticipate resulting from the enactment of SOPA or PIPA.
Although they vary slightly in their language, both SOPA and PIPA would empower the Department of Justice to seek an injunction from a federal judge against a foreign website that it considers to be primarily dedicated to piracy. If the judge agreed, Justice could then prevail on all manner of Internet players, including service providers, search engines, payment processors and ad networks, to cut off services to the offending site.
Early this year, the U.S. Congress appears likely to move forward with two controversial copyright enforcement bills, despite the vocal and widespread opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act in the Internet community.
The two bills, SOPA and PIPA for short, appear headed toward approval this year, unless opponents can change the minds of many lawmakers. Dozens of legislators have voiced support for the bills, despite reports from digital rights group Fight for the Future that more than 1 million people have sent email messages to Congress in opposition.
The U.S. Senate is expected to begin floor debate on PIPA shortly after senators return to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, and supporters appear to have the votes to override a threatened filibuster by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and a handful of other lawmakers.
Both bills have strong support in Congress and among some segments of U.S. industry. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Motion Picture Association of America, two powerful trade and lobbying groups, are among the 400-plus organizations supporting the bills. Other supporters include the National Football League, Time Warner, L'Oreal, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Several supporters of the two bills declined to make predictions, but it's hard to ignore the numbers in Congress so far.
Controversial online copyright enforcement bill the Stop Online Piracy Act may be stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives as lawmakers try to iron out a compromise, an opponent of the legislation said.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said he’s been assured by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that SOPA will not move forward unless consensus is reached.
“Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote,” Issa said. “The voice of the Internet community has been heard. Much more education for Members of Congress about the workings of the Internet is essential if anti-piracy legislation is to be workable and achieve broad appeal.”
A spokeswoman for Cantor declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chief sponsor of SOPA, said Monday she does not believe Cantor has made a public comment about delaying SOPA.
Issa also announced that a Wednesday hearing on SOPA’s impact on cybersecurity has been postponed, following a decision by Smith to take out a provision affecting the domain-name system. Smith announced Friday that he would take out a portion of SOPA that would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring U.S. Internet service providers to block subscriber access to foreign websites accused of infringing copyright.
Go Daddy rivals including Hover, Name.com, and Namecheap are still looking to capitalize on the world’s largest domain registrar’s initial decision to support the Stop Online Piracy Act. All four firms continue to offer discounted transfer costs and other enticements to convince website owners to transfer their business away from Go Daddy. A potential Go Daddy exodus could hit its climax Thursday, which has been proclaimed Move Your Domain Day by Namecheap. A thread on Reddit had previously called for a Go Daddy boycott on Thursday.
Recently, Go Daddy was roundly criticized for its public support of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill currently making its way through Congress and widely derided by the tech community. Go Daddy announced Friday that it would no longer support the bill.
The bill is intended to curb online piracy of movies, television shows, music and counterfeit goods by choking off financial support to copyright infringing sites based outside the United States. The bill would also require search engines to remove infringing sites from their indexes, and DNS providers would not be allowed to direct traffic to these sites. Critics of the legislation have called the bill an attempt to create a “U.S. censorship regime.”
Numerous sites across the Internet are going dark today in protest of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) legislation currently before the House of Representatives, and the PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation before the Senate. Google, Reddit, Boing Boing, and others are protesting the bills not because those sites support piracy, but rather because the legislation would, quite simply, ruin the Internet. One blacked-out site on Wednesday won’t ruin the Internet—but it could ruin your day. If you absolutely need more information about, say, the Mojave Phone Booth, we can help.
But before you work around Wikipedia’s SOPA protest, consider using its helpful utility to find your representatives, call them, and voice your opposition to the bill.
Tweak the URL
Add a ?banner=false to the end of a Wikipedia URL, and the protest goes away, revealing the article you’re after. Since the mobile Wikipedia site is up, you can also force yourself to view the mobile-optimized site; change the en.wikipedia.org URL to en.m.wikipedia.org, and you’ll be good to go.
A hearing to debate and amend the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives has been delayed, likely until early next year.
The House Judiciary Committee had planned to continue with a third day of markup hearings on SOPA on Wednesday, if the House was still in session. But the House leadership plans now to break for the holidays before Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman for the committee said.
The continued markup has been “postponed until the House is again in session,” the spokeswoman said Tuesday. “At this point, we expect that to be early next year.”
The Judiciary Committee held a 10-hour bill markup session last Thursday, then met again for a short time Friday before being interrupted by votes on the House floor. Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and committee chairman, had first suggested the next markup would be after the holidays, then scheduled a hearing for Wednesday if the House was still in session.
So far, the committee has voted down about 20 amendments designed to address concerns by Web-based companies, Web security experts and digital rights groups.
Lawmakers opposing the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act have introduced alternative legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and 24 co-sponsors introduced the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act late Wednesday, the same day many websites went dark in opposition to SOPA and the Protect IP Act, a similar bill in the Senate.
The OPEN Act would allow copyright holders to file complaints about copyright infringement at foreign websites with the U.S. International Trade Commission, which would investigate the complaints and decide whether U.S. payment processors and online advertising networks should be required to cut off funding. Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a Senate version of the OPEN Act in December.
“OPEN is a targeted, effective solution to the problem of foreign, rogue websites stealing from American artists and innovators,” Issa said in a statement. “Today’s Internet blackout has underscored the flawed approach taken by SOPA and PIPA to the real problem of intellectual property infringement. OPEN is a smarter way to protect taxpayers’ rights while protecting the Internet.”
By contrast, SOPA would allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders requiring payment processors and ad networks to stop doing business with foreign websites accused by the plaintiffs of copyright infringement. SOPA would also allow the DOJ to seek court orders requiring search engines and possibly other websites to stop linking to sites it accuses of infringing copyright.
Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from CIO.com.
Supporters of a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills working their way through Congress anticipate that the measures are heading toward their endgame, following word from the sponsors of the legislation that some of the most objectionable provisions would be dropped.
The bills in question, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), a slightly different version in the Senate, have together emerged as a lightning rod that has sparked a heated debate, broadly pitting content industries such as Hollywood and music against a litany of Web companies and open Internet advocates.
State of the Net
“Despite all of my best efforts, the past year has been dominated by really a bitter war between Silicon Valley and the content industry,” Paul Brigner, senior vice president and chief technology policy officer at the Motion Picture Association of America, said Tuesday here at the annual State of the Net conference.
Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from PCWorld.com.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act are getting more negative attention, as major websites such as Wikipedia are protesting the bills with blackouts on Wednesday. Even Google has joined the action, with a link on its homepage explaining why the company opposes the legislation.
But what are SOPA and PIPA, exactly, and why are tech luminaries lambasting legislation aimed at stamping out copyright infringement? Read on for a full explanation.
SOPA and PIPA: The basics
Media companies are always looking for new ways to fight piracy. They’ve tried suing individual users, getting Internet service providers to take action against subscribers, and working with the U.S. government to shut down domains based in the United States. But none of those actions can stop overseas websites such as The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload from infringing copyrights, or prevent Internet users from accessing those sites.
Momentum in the debate over PIPA and SOPA seems to have shifted in favor of opponents in recent days, with several lawmakers voicing new opposition, and the White House appearing to distance itself from the two bills. The Web blackout Wednesday may be remembered as one of the first successful online uprisings in the U.S., but leaders in the U.S. Senate still planned to begin voting on PIPA next Tuesday.
Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, blacked out her own website to protest the bills. “History is being made by the more than 10,000 websites that have chosen to boycott SOPA by participating in today’s blackout,” she tweeted.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and opponent of the two bills, also praised participants in the Web blackout for educating the public about the issue. The Web blackout led to widespread media coverage of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA.
“This unprecedented effort has turned the tide against a backroom lobbying effort by interests that aren’t used to being told ‘no,’” Issa said in a statement.”I know suspending and changing access to sites was not necessarily an easy decision, but this is a responsible and transparent exercise of freedom of speech.”
As thousands of websites and blogs went dark Wednesday to voice their opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, some U.S. lawmakers have had a change of heart about the controversial copyright enforcement bills.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, announced Wednesday he was withdrawing as a co-sponsor of PIPA, and Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called on Congress to take more time to work on the bills.
“Better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong,” Cornyn said on his Facebook page. “Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.”
Rubio also joined several other Republicans in calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, to delay a vote on PIPA scheduled for next Tuesday.
“Earlier this year, this bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and without controversy,” Rubio said in a Facebook post. “Since then, we’ve heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”
Wikipedia has decided to black out the English version of the online encyclopedia for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Wikipedia’s move follows the lead of other Internet sites, including social news site Reddit which will black out its site for 12 hours on the same day.
Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo however said in a message on Twitter that “Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.” He later clarified that he was talking about Twitter and not about Wikipedia’s decision.
Wikimedia Foundation said on Monday that the Wikipedia community had chosen to black out its English version to protest against SOPA in the House of Representatives, and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.
“If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, said in a statement on its website.
Three Obama administration officials issued a statement over the weekend on legislation including SOPA, PIPA, and the Online Protection and Digital ENforcement Act (OPEN), in response to petitions.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has postponed a vote on the controversial Protect IP Act, scheduled for Tuesday, as a growing number of senators voice opposition to the copyright enforcement bill.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, had scheduled a cloture vote in an effort to cut off debate and override a filibuster of the bill. But more than 30 senators have come out against the bill in the past week, most of them responding to massive online protests over PIPA and the Stop Online Piracy Act, a similar bill in the House of Representatives.
“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” Reid said in a statement Friday. “Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.”
Also on Friday, Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and lead sponsor of SOPA, said he will entertain changes to his bill.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said in a statement. “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Mozilla extolled the impact of its 12-hour participation in Wednesday’s anti-SOPA strike, saying Firefox users and fans generated over a third-of-a-million emails to the U.S. Congress.
Two days ago, Mozilla blackened Firefox’s default home page and redirected its websites to an “action page” asking users to contact their federal representatives and voice their opposition to “Internet blacklist legislation.”
Mozilla joined other websites, including Craigslist, Google and Wikipedia, in a one-day “virtual strike” to drum up resistance to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), bills being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, respectively.
Since Wednesday’s blackout, Washington politicians have backpedaled on the legislation. Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) postponed next week’s vote on PIPA, while Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the committee was also postponing action “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
According to Mozilla, Firefox users were instrumental in getting the message to Congress.