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Opponents step up pressure against SOPA, PIPA

Grant Gross | Jan. 18, 2012
The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act being debated in the U.S. Congress still have major problems, opponents said Monday, even after the bills' lead sponsors promised to take out some much-criticized portions of the legislation.

"That affects virtually the entire Internet," Siy said.

In addition, the bills allow copyright holders to seek court orders requiring online advertising networks and payment processors to stop doing business with accused infringers. The legal actions from copyright holders are "an incredible amount of power that somebody can have over a website," he said.

The bills also give lawsuit protections to ISPs, ad networks payment processors, search engines and domain name registrars that voluntarily take action to cut off sites suspected of infringement. "They could cut somebody off, and not be liable, even if they do so in a discriminatory fashion," he said. "If an ISP decided they wanted to cut off or some other viral video site overseas, they would be immune from any sort of antitrust or net neutrality investigation."

Organizers of an Internet strike said they expect about 7,000 websites to participate in a blackout Wednesday in opposition to SOPA and PIPA. Among the sites going dark for part of the day Wednesday are Reddit, the English-language Wikipedia,,, and the Cheezburger family of sites. Google said Tuesday it plans to highlight its opposition to the bills on its home page.

While backers of SOPA and PIPA have said the bills won't affect U.S. sites, the bills could apply to sites with non-U.S. domains, including or URL shortening service, said Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit. Copyright holders could drive Reddit out of business with court orders, he said.

Supporters of the bills dismissed the continued concerns. The continued opposition is to bills that "simply do not exist," said Sandra Aistars, executive director of the Copyright Alliance, a coalition of artists, trade groups and entertainment companies.

The bills would target only foreign websites designed or operated to infringe U.S. copyrights, she said. The two bills "contain protections to ensure that free speech and innovation are protected, and that only commercially and technically reasonable approaches are deployed," she added. "No bill currently pending in Congress would inhibit free speech or break the Internet or stifle innovation. These accusations are not true."



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