Congress wants to crack down on Internet piracy but its new proposals are not being embraced by some of the web’s biggest players. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was proposed in the House of Representatives in October with a goal of stopping foreign torrent websites from stealing content, like movies and music. The Senate is currently considering its own Protect IP Act, and though the MPAA and the RIAA support the legislation, Internet giants like Google and Facebook fear that the bills, should they pass, would introduce unwanted regulation and censorship. SOPA would give the government power to shut down sites that post copyrighted content and prevent search engines from working with suspect sites. Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt called the legislation “draconian,” and his company teamed with Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, Twitter and other popular sites to write an open letter to Congress’ Committee on the Judiciary expressing their concerns.
Hearings began yesterday in Washington, with Committee Chairman Lamar Smith saying in a statement, “Under current law, rogue sites that profit from selling pirated goods are often out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies and operate without consequences. The Stop Online Piracy Act helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.”