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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Google, Facebook, Others Fight Legislation to Stop Online Content Piracy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 12:45 PM


A veritable who's who of major tech firms in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley are fighting federal legislation aimed at putting a stop to theft of original content online.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would allow content creators to seek court orders barring internet service providers, search engines, payment processors, and advertising networks from linking to or otherwise doing business with sites accused of copyright infringement.

Doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, in a letter to Congress, major tech firms argue that the bill amounts to "censorship," puts unreasonable demands on companies in terms of policing their online content, and exposes the firms to new and uncertain legal liabilities. The signatories are Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, LinkedIn, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, and Mozilla.

"While we work together to find ways to target foreign 'rogue' sites, we should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and Internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people create, find, discuss, and share information lawfully online," the letter states.

Thing is, the current "foundational structure" is apparently not working so well for content owners -- the bill is supported by groups including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (That's to say nothing of how the Internet's open marketplace has torpedoed original "content creators" in the journalism industry, a can of worms unto itself.)

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Peter Jamison


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