The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has made clear that it supports the passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) by the U.S. House of Representatives, even as the video game publishersâ trade group acknowledges concerns of Internet companies and others opposed to the bill.
The ESA reiterated its rationale for backing SOPA â as well as a similar legislative proposal in the U.S. Senate â in statement to video game news site Joystiq on Tuesday. âRogue websites â those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy â restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs,â the association says. âOur industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective.â
However, the ESA notes, âWe are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.â
Another content ownersâ trade group, the Business Software Alliance (BSA), has taken a different tack: it has withheld its support of SOPA until lawmakers address âinnovation considerations,â according to BSA president Robert Holleyman.
The House Judiciary Committee maintains an updated list of the bill’s supporters here.
The House Judiciary Committee plans to continue its markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) early next year after Congress returns from its winter recess, according to reports (see The Washington Post). Continuation of last weekâs contentious proceeding had been scheduled for today. It remains to be seen whether the committee will hear testimony from Internet infrastructure experts on the anti-piracy billâs potential side effects, as proposed by SOPAâs opponents.
The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives may call experts to testify on whether the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would unwittingly impact Internet security, according to reports.
The committee adjourned its markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act on Friday, with plans to resume the proceeding on Wednesday (via The Hill). Last weekâs adjournment followed a motion by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to postpone the proceeding until the committee heard testimony from Internet experts (via Wired).
Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the committeeâs chairman and SOPAâs chief sponsor, had initially refused the prospect of further testimony on the bill. Â Per the Wired report, the committee already has lodged into its record a paper by security experts on SOPAâs technical ramifications, as well as an open letter by prominent Internet engineers claiming that the bill ran contrary to the governmentâs open-Internet policy objectives.
Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are poised to report the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) for consideration by the full chamber, following a committee mark-up session on Thursday (via The Hill).
Opponents to the bill have grown more numerous and vocal, with some of the Internetâs original engineers sending a letter to Congress claiming that SOPA could undermine the Internetâs infrastructure (via The Washington Post). Nevertheless, as The Hill reports, the billâs sponsors remain confident about SOPAâs prospects for passage if it comes to a vote this year.
On Thursday, The House Judiciary Committee voted down all amendments to the bill, including a proposal to replace SOPA with the so-called OPEN Act (viaÂ Talking Points Memo). The most heated debate was not over online copyright enforcement, but over House decorum, after one Representative tweeted that another âhas so bored meâ during the committee mark-up that âIâm killing time by surfing the Internetâ (via TPM and CNET).
File-hosting service Megaupload is reportedly vowing to sue Universal Music Group for wrongfully ordering the takedown of the serviceâs promotional video from YouTube, in a controversy that shows the nuances of the copyright debate and the potential implications of new copyright enforcement legislation now under consideration by Congress.
Last week, Megaupload released a promotional video for its service that featured endorsements from a host of recording artists and celebrities â from Will.i.am, P Diddy, Kanye West, and Mary J. Blige to Kim Kardashian. TorrentFreak reports that Universal Music Group, along with the IFPI trade body, had ordered YouTube to block the video, claiming it contained infringing content. The song sung by the artists in the video, however, is original, and Megaupload demanded its restoration, stating that it had signed agreements with all of the featured talent. (Copies of the four-minute video are once once again available on YouTube.)
Megaupload CEO David Robb tells TorrentFreak that the service has long been treated as a pariah by music labels and other entertainment companies, even though the service complies with takedown requests and closes accounts of users who upload infringing material. Robb also speculates on what the upshot of last weekâs episode would have been if the Stop Online Piracy Act, now under consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives, were law.
âUMG is currently lobbying lawmakers in Washington for legislation that would allow them to not only delete specific content from a website, but to delete entire websites from the Internet,â he notes.
More on the controversy at VentureBeat.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Thursday released a draft text of the âOnline Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act,â an anti-piracy bill that aims to respect legitimate Internet businesses while expanding the governmentâs intellectual property enforcement powers.
Whereas rival proposals, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would enable rightsholders to seek court orders blocking consumer access to websites that are deemed dedicated to infringement, the OPEN Act would empower the governmentâs International Trade Commission (ITC) to fight âillegal digital importsâ by compelling payment processors and online advertising networks to cease doing business with ââprimarilyâ and âwillfullyâ infringingâ foreign sites. Rightsholders would petition the ITC and an investigation into the website would follow, similar how the commission currently handles physical-goods cases.
Since the OPEN Act targets foreign-registered websites, delegating new duties to the ITC âjust makes sense,â Wyden said in a statement.
âIt is our hope,â said Wyden, âthat proponents of other approaches wonât just dismiss our proposal, but will instead take this opportunity to engage us on the substance.â
The Motion Picture Association of America swiftly issued aÂ criticism of the proposal. Michael OâLeary, the groupâs senior EVP for global policy and external affairs, said that the OPEN Act âfails to provide an effective way to target foreign rogue websites and goes easy on online piracy and counterfeiting. By changing the venue from our federal courts to the U.S. International Trade Commission, it places copyright holders at a disadvantage.â
Among the potential disadvantages to delegating authority to the ITC instead of courts is lost time: it currently takes the ITC an average of 18 months to issue a final decision in a case, OâLeary said.
The OPEN Actâs drafters invite public and industry comments on the draft text at www.keepthewebOPEN.com.
SOPA, meanwhile, remains controversial in tech circles: see the infographic that Mashable ran earlier this week outlining the House bill and its implications.
More on the OPEN Act and SOPA at The Hill.
Legislators in Washington agree that the government needs to do more to fight online infringement of copyrights; but the two most recent proposals in Congress remain mired in debates on the legislationâs potential effects on due process and free speech. A new bipartisan proposal would empower the U.S.Â International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate, at a rights holderâs request, whether foreign websites are hosting what amount to âillegal digital imports.â Under the proposal, an ITC Â cease-and-desist order against a foreign website would âcompel financial transaction providers and Internet advertising services to cease providing financial and advertising services to the foreign website.â
Authors of the draft framework include Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who moved to block to the progress of the âProtect IP Actâ in the Senate earlier this year; and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has publicly criticized the approach of the Stop Online Piracy Actânow under consideration in the U.S. House of Representativesâfor being flawed.
More on the new proposal at Ars Technica.
Amidst public protest and mounting criticism from lawmakers, the Stop Online Piracy Act faces dimming prospects of passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to reports.
Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the legislative bodyâs oversight and government reform committee, tells The Hill that last weekâs hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) had the opposite effect that the billâs sponsors intended. Instead of âgreas[ing] the skids for this bill moving forward,â Issa said, the hearing brought public attention to SOPAâs âflaws.â
Issa said he plans to introduce a new copyright enforcement bill in the House after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Meanwhile, SOPAâwhich in part aims to block U.S. residentsâ access to foreign websites that are deemed dedicated to copyright infringementâis drawing tacit criticism from legislators abroad as well. On Friday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that âstresses the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain namesâ (via Macworld UK).
Supporters and detractors of the âStop Online Piracy Actâ (SOPA) gave testimony before the House of Representativesâ Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as the legislative chamber seeks to toughen the nation’s intellectual property enforcement measures during the current legislative session.
The U.S. Copyright Office joined Hollywood studios and other content distributors in endorsing of SOPA, with Maria Pallante, Register of Copyrights, testifying before the House committee that the legislation âprovides 21st century tools to the Department of Justice with respect to foreign infringing websites.â Pallante stressed her officeâs view that SOPA neither embodies a âzero toleranceâ enforcement approach that would risk curtailing of First Amendment rights; nor does the legislation âaffect the safe harbors that Internet service providers enjoy under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).â The full text of Pallanteâs statement is here.
Googleâs copyright counsel, Katherine Oyama, countered with several examples of how SOPA would âundermineâ the DMCA safe harbors, impacting the business of âvirtually every Internet company.â
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives hope to step up the governmentâs fight against online copyright infringement, introducing the âStop Online Piracy Actâ in the chamber on Wednesday.
The House bill (H.R. 3261) is an analog to the Protect IP Act that has been stalled in the U.S. Senate since May. The House bill looks to address the free speech criticisms of the Senate measure. But the new proposal adds a procedure for blocking online payment processors and advertising networks from supporting sites âdedicated to theft of U.S. property.â The House bill also incorporates elements of a separate Senate proposal to criminalize as a felony the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material.
Content producers are even more amplified in their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act than with the earlier Senate measure (via The Hollywood Reporter). But the House bill has vocal detractors as well (see The Hill and Ars Technica).