The tide seems to have turned against the Stop Online Piracy Act, as both Nancy Pelosi and Darrell Issa have come out against passage.
"Need to find a better solution than #SOPA #DontBreakTheInternet," the liberal Democratic House leader tweeted on Thursday, in response to a tweeter who asked: "Where do you stand on internet censoring and #SOPA?"
And, from the right, California Rep. Darrell Issa has told The Hill newspaper that the House of Representative’s anti-piracy act has no chance of passage.
Congress, the leading Republican lawmaker said, is “realizing there are so many unintended consequences that they can’t just use Google as a piñata and bash on it here.”
There is, he said, "a very broad coalition from far left to far right who realize this will hurt innovation, something we can't afford to do. And there are other ways to accomplish what they say is their goal."
While Pelosi hasn't elaborated on Twitter, her office did put out this statement early Thursday afternoon:
"Leader Pelosi strongly supports protecting intellectual property. The problem of rogue websites duping consumers is a real one and deserves Congress' attention. The internet, human rights, and cybersecurity communities have raised concerns that SOPA doesn't strike the right balance that protects the needs of copyright holders and internet users alike. Tens of thousands jobs in all the affected industries require us to find an effective solution that all stakeholders can support."
Introduced by Lamar Smith (R-TX) and heavily supported by the entertainment industry, the act would give federal authorities new power to block service providers, search engines, payment processors, and advertising networks it considers to be facilitating illegal on-line activity, such as streaming pirated television programs, films or selling pharmaceuticals.
“I don’t believe this bill has any chance on the House floor,” Issa said. “I think it’s way too extreme, it infringes on too many areas that our leadership will know is simply too dangerous to do in its current form.”
Opponents – including internet giants Google, Twitter, eBay and Facebook, as well as a host of public interest groups -- say the legislation lays the groundwork for online censorship. The law, they point out, could shutdown law-abiding websites when, for example, users post links to infringing websites.
Indeed, Google’s Katherine Oyama testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday that the company had “grave concerns” about aspects of the law that provide authority to “disappear” foreign websites.
What’s more, Oyama said, the law would inflict onerous monitoring costs upon internet companies, especially start-ups, which would stifle innovation.
Oyama was the only one of six witnesses to speak out against the bill at Wednesday’s hearing, a situation public-interest organizations decried.
Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, called Wednesday’s hearing a “great disappointment.”
Sohn said the majority of the committee’s comments “clearly reflected the views of only one industry -- the big media companies which are pushing this bill, yet another piece of legislation to impose Draconian measures on the technology sector -- the fastest-growing and most productive part of our economy.”
Sohn said the committee did not extend invitations to an array of opponents “from human-rights groups to entrepreneurs to Internet engineers to civil libertarians.”
Consumer Electronics Association president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in at statement that SOPA should be rewritten to “target bad actors without ensnaring legitimate companies.”
As written, Shapiro said SOPA would “expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Collamore blogged Wednesday that an anti-piracy law is crucial:
“While consumer health and safety is being undermined on one front, jobs in our most creative and innovative industries are being attacked on the other. The counterfeiting and piracy perpetuated by rogue sites stifles innovation by undercutting the investments in making the newest cancer drug, or latest ‘it’ movie, or most innovative home technology.”
No action was taken at Wednesday’s hearing. The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet