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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.

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.

Even as officials with President Barack Obama's administration appeared to oppose SOPA and PIPA, opponents of the bills said there's more work to be done to stop the bills.

With new opposition to both bills, the Internet is "winning a fight" against SOPA and PIPA, Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said Tuesday. But Newmark, during a Web chat attended by more than 1,200 people, urged opponents of SOPA and PIPA to continue to contact their lawmakers and read about the bills.

"The Internet is us," he said.

Although House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, has privately promised to stall SOPA until a consensus can be reached, the Senate plans to move forward with a vote on PIPA as early as this month. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, said he hopes to have an amended version of PIPA come up for a vote in late September. PIPA has some problems, he said, but it could help protect U.S. jobs.

With the White House statement and the Cantor promise on SOPA, opponents of the two bills said Monday that momentum seems to be turning against passage of the legislation. But opponents of SOPA and PIPA hosted two briefings on Monday, with the focus on how to further derail the bills.

Last week, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and lead sponsor of SOPA, and Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and lead sponsor of SOPA, said they will offer amendments to the bills to take out controversial provisions that would require ISPs (Internet service providers) to block subscriber access to foreign websites accused of copyright infringement. Under the old provisions, ISPs would have to block the sites after receiving a court order requested by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Opponents of the bills said they're waiting to see the language of the proposed amendments from Leahy and Smith. Even if the ISP provisions are removed, the bills still have significant problems, said Sherwin Siy, deputy legal director of Public Knowledge, a digital rights group.

PIPA's language is still broad, allowing the DOJ or copyright holders to take court actions targeting any foreign websites that enable or facilitate copyright infringement, Siy said. The bill does not define what enabling or facilitating infringement means, and could include ISPs, Web hosting services, or any site that links to a suspected infringer, he said.

 

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