Silicon Valley giants join forces to fight internet piracy laws

15 Nov 2011

Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and other internet giants have joined forces in an attempt to appeal against US lawmakers enacting anti-piracy legislation that could force the internet companies to bear the burden of responsibility.

The range of internet companies, which also includes Twitter, AOL, Zynga and LinkedIn, are railing against new legislative proposals aimed at protecting Hollywood and the music industry which they claim are too vague.

The companies fear that the proposed legislation would require them to police the internet which, they claim, would ultimately jeopardise business growth.

A meeting of the House Judiciary Committee regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

The companies wrote to US senators: “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law- abiding US internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.

“We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job- creation, as well as to our nation’s cyber security,” the companies said.

Disastrous implications of SOPA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has described the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) as potentially disastrous.

“Under this bill, service providers (including hosting services) would be under new pressure to monitor and police their users’ activities.  Websites that simply don’t do enough to police infringement (and it is not at all clear what would qualify as ‘enough’) are now under threat, even though the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) expressly does notrequire affirmative policing.

“It creates new enforcement tools against folks who dare to help users access sites that may have been ‘blacklisted,’ even without any kind of court hearing. The bill also requires that search engines, payment providers (such as credit card companies and PayPal), and advertising services join in the fun in shutting down entire websites.  In fact, the bill seems mainly aimed at creating an end-run around the DMCA safe harbors. Instead of complying with the DMCA, a copyright owner may now be able to use these new provisions to effectively shut down a site by cutting off access to its domain name, its search engine hits, its ads, and its other financing even if the safe harbors would apply.”