First Posted: 11/16/11 07:33 PM ET Updated: 11/16/11 09:56 PM ET
WASHINGTON — At a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans joined together to voice support for legislation that would criminalize much of the activity that occupies the Internet. The bipartisan bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act would establish major new powers for corporations intent on corralling copyrighted materials — powers that would lead to big legal bills for start-ups and Silicon Valley giants alike.
SOPA’s Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, was already voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.
Both political parties — flush with campaign contributions from Hollywood studios and trial lawyers — are eager to pass the legislation. The Senate version, introduced in May, has broad support, but has been held up by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Without Wyden’s hold, the legislation looks certain to pass by a landslide. The House version, introduced last month, was written by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and co-sponsored by ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.).
“The theft of American intellectual property costs the American economy over $100 billion annually … and thousands of American jobs,” Smith declared at Wednesday’s hearing.
“I am very pleased that this is a bipartisan bill, and I think that that’s very important,” Conyers added.
But generating all this enthusiasm is legislation that would shift the balance of power over the Internet.
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- Stop Sopa now | Dan Gillmor (guardian.co.uk)
- SOPA: Internet Piracy Bill Criticized as Internet Censorship – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)
- Web Freedom Groups Spar With Hollywood in SOPA Fight Online (clickz.com)
- SOPA – Congress holds a hearing that would “create America’s first system for internet censhorship” (nextlevelofnews.com)
- ERROR 404: Congress Wants To Break The Internet (huffingtonpost.com)
- Backers defend controversial online copyright bill (cbsnews.com)