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Obama Backs Ad Industry's Opposition of SOPA/PIPA

25 Jan, 2012 By: Jackie Jones


WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration has come out in opposition of the proposed Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), arguing that protecting intellectual property online must not threaten “an open and innovative Internet,” according to an official statement from the White House.

Obama’s stance is in line with much of the advertising industry as well, which has rallied against the legislation, saying it will cost ad networks, payment processors and many others in the marketplace billions of dollars simply to comply with the bills’ requirements.

“SOPA is a giant reach – on many levels it’s a big legislative overstep.  The rules of the Internet have not yet been written. We are not going to accomplish any of its good intentions with something this sweepingly, often wrongly, informed,” said Tom Pouliot, payment evangelist at Litle & Co. “Protecting intellectual property, safeguarding copyright, underscoring the commercial value of content – these are good things.  Yet as much as SOPA seeks to safeguard, its scope includes equally onerous provisions that could cripple the very essence of content ubiquity that has driven consumers to the web and helped direct marketers flourish. The Washington conversation on this has to be more thoughtful and more inclusive.”

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small, according to a White House statement issued by Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordination at the Office of Budget and Management, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. chief technology officer, and Howard Schmidt, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator for National Security Staff.

“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” the statement said.

Ad executives argue that monitoring all content contributed to a website as required by the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation would become overwhelming costly and nearly unbearable, according to multiple media reports. Martin Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association, publicly lamented the bills to MediaPost last week.

“If the combined bills would have been passed years ago, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter would have been shut down before the companies made it to their first week of operations,” Lafferty said. “Part of these bills would destroy the Internet by attacking the domain name system, which is fundamental protocol to how it works.”

In response, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and other supporters of the bills have said many sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia would not be affected because they do not meet the definitions of a “nondomestic domain name “or of a website “dedicated to infringing activities” as defined by the legislation.

“While some of these websites do contain infringing content, each one clearly has a significant use other than infringement and therefore could never meet the definition contained in the Protect IP Act, even if they were based overseas,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

For now, the House Judiciary Committee has postponed consideration of the legislation until there is a wider agreement on a solution, according to an official statement from Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the House Judiciary Committee chairman.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. 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,” Smith said. “The Committee will continue work with both copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.  We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem.  The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”


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