SOPA sponsor undeterred by conservative opposition, websites’ blackouts

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, author of the Stop Online Piracy Act, announced Tuesday that the bill will resume markup before the House Judiciary Committee in February.

The announcement comes in the face of massive opposition to the bill, with several major websites — including Reddit and Wikipedia — planning to block access to their U.S. versions Wednesday in protest.

Critics of SOPA say the bill threatens free speech and would disrupt essential cyber security technologies. Supporters say online copyright infringement costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year, and must be stopped.

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa — a vocal critic of SOPA and the Protect IP Act, its Senate counterpart –  said Friday that both bills remain “flawed.”

“Smith [has] announced that he will remove the DNS blocking provision from his legislation,” acknowledged Issa in a statement. But, he added, “despite the removal of this provision, [SOPA] is still a fundamentally flawed bill.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has assured Issa that the bill will not move to the House floor unless “consensus” is reached.

Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, announced Tuesday that it will hold votes in favor of SOPA and PIPA against lawmakers.

“Heritage Action opposes SOPA and PIPA and if they come to a vote will include them as a key vote on our scorecard,” said the influential conservative group.

Conservative non-profit FreedomWorks, which claims one million members, also announced its disapproval of the bills.

“Twenty-seven Republican lawmakers who strongly opposed net neutrality are strangely cosponsors of SOPA in the House or PIPA in the Senate,” wrote Julie Boroski on the FreedomWorks blog.

“Yet, the proposed online piracy laws are equally as bad or perhaps even worse than net neutrality,” wrote Borowski. “SOPA and PIPA would disrupt the growth of technology and infringe on free speech. Any individual interested in preserving the freedom of the Internet should not support either version of this dangerous bill.”

“Right now, the focus of protecting the Internet needs to be on the Senate where Majority Leader Reid has announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks,” said Issa Tuesday.

PIPA is sponsored by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who swatted at the opposition of Wikipedia and Reddit in a statement.

“The PROTECT IP Act will not affect Wikipedia, will not affect Reddit, and will not affect any website that has any legitimate use,” said Leahy. ” A foreign rogue website is clearly defined as one that has no real purpose other than infringement.”

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Josh Peterson