SOPA goes for House debate Dec. 15


Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) (Drew Angerer/AP)

Lawmakers will then debate changes over Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-Tex.) Stop Online Piracy Act, a legislation that has pitted media companies against high-tech firms such as Google and Facebook.

A Judiciary Committee aide said Smith is “open to changes” in the bill and is in discussions with a wide range of parties who would be affected by new laws.

“He is open to changes but only legitimate changes,” the Hill aide said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the legislation is still being debated. “Some site are totally capable of filtering illegal content, but they won’t and are instead profiting from the traffic of illegal content.”

SOPA, with 25 co-sponsors from both parties, would give law enforcement the ability to seize Web sites that are primarily dedicated to the distribution of illegal piracy or counterfeiting. It would also require Web sites and telecom service providers to monitor their networks for pirated material, critics say.

Media companies including Hollywood studios, argue that without strong laws to stop piracy, they will continue a losing battle against content theft online.

“The bill provides effective due process to the parties involved.  A federal judge must first agree that the website in question is dedicated to illegal and infringing activity,” Smith said recently in a statement. “Only then will a court order be issued directing companies to sever ties with the illegal website. Legitimate websites have nothing to worry about under this bill.”

But network architecture firms and some free speech proponents argue the legislation could disrupt the domain name system of Web sites and could curb rights of expression on the Internet.

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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