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The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has raised a lot of controversy recently. For a detailed discussion of SOPA and its provisions, refer to Brandon Trout’s blog post from November 2011. On January 13, 2012, Texas congressman Lamar Smith announced that he would remove the Domain Name System (DNS) blocking provision from SOPA. This provision would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block websites that contain infringing content.
Though the House will remove the DNS blocking provision, SOPA will still allow officials to detach payment methods, like credit-card processing mechanisms, to infringing sites. The law would still require search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to remove illegal websites from their search results. Copyright holders could also still bring claims against foreign websites that infringe on their technology and intellectual property.
Notably, Smith made the announcement to remove the controversial provision just before the Obama administration stated that it would not tolerate it. ”We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet,” said Obama’s technology advisors in a statement.
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, has voiced his opinions against the Obama administration for its criticism of SOPA. Murdoch tweeted, “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.” Murdoch also accused Google of piracy, claiming that Google streams pirated material and sells advertising against it. Murdoch’s assertions do not cover the entire scope of the Obama administration’s statements. The White House is in favor of new laws that would combat online piracy, but it says that the laws must be narrowly targeted.
Additionally, Senator Patrick Leahy has addressed the DNS blocking provision in the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which is the Senate version of SOPA. For now, Leahy recommends that lawmakers study the DNS issue in greater detail before implementing it.
SOPA has been top news for weeks now, with opponents accusing Representative Smith and other supporters of trying to get rid of the Internet. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have stated they are against the bill, and Reddit, Mozilla, Wikipedia, and WordPress are protesting SOPA today by going dark.
We will see what happens to SOPA. Right now, what’s ironic is that Murdoch is using his Twitter account to voice his support for a bill that Twitter itself opposes.
– Sophia Behnia
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