November 16, 2011
SOPA Goes To A (Carefully Managed) Hearing
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is headed to a hearing today before the full House Judiciary Committee. Well, we’ll call it a hearing because there is at least one party testifying that opposes the bill, and that is Katherine Oyama, Policy Counsel for Google. The rest are media industry heavyweights and government officials thoroughly supporting the bill.
Typically House and Senate committees place the written statements of the participants on the hearing web site. Not so for this hearing. Anyone wanting to see the statements, along with a scathing analysis of each should see the article A Look At The Testimony Given At Today's SOPA Lovefest Congressional Hearings... With A Surprise From MasterCard at Techdirt. The documents are embedded in the lengthy text. The surprise from MasterCard, by the way, is that the cost to the company to respond to the private right of action envisioned in the bill is big due to the 5 day response time to cut off offenders. Techdirt states that Visa is against the bill. No wonder they weren’t invited to testify.The fact that Google is there is more likely an attempt to pillory the company for its opposition. Committee
Chairman Lamar Smith said in the only statement up on the Committee’s web site:
In contrast, another one of the companies represented here today has sought to obstruct the Committee’s consideration of bipartisan legislation.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise given that Google just settled a federal criminal investigation into the company’s active promotion of rogue websites that pushed illegal prescription and counterfeit drugs on American consumers.
In announcing a half billion dollar forfeiture of illegal profits, the U.S. Attorney, Peter Neronha, who led the investigation stated, “Suffice it to say that this is not two or three rogue employees at the customer service level doing this… This was a corporate decision to engage in this conduct.”Over several years, Google ignored repeated warnings from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University that the company was violating federal law.
The company also disregarded requests to block advertisements from rogue pharmacies, screen such sites from searches and provide warnings about buying drugs over the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reports Mr. Neronha characterized Google’s efforts to appear to control unlawful advertisements as “window-dressing” since “it allowed Google to continue earning revenues from the allegedly illicit ad sales even as it professed to be taking action against them.”Given Google’s record, their objection to authorizing a court to order a search engine to not steer consumers to foreign rogue sites is more easily understood.
Unfortunately, the theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.
Have you decency Mr. Google? Think of the children. Think of the artists. For those wanting to think of the artists, an article in The Hill, Digital wars, Round 2: Killing the Golden Goose, offers an additional analysis suggesting one of the bill's purposes of protecting jobs of recording artists is a red herring. Really? Not our Congress.
Chairman Smith’s reports on campaign contributions shows that he is a darling of media money, with contributions from CC Media Holdings ($18,300), Comcast ($10,000), the RIAA ($7,500), Microsoft ($7,500), and others. Google gave him $7,000, which apparently is not enough to sway his opinion.
Expect a one-sided affair in this example of government at its best. For past coverage, see my post House Bill Would Place Broad IP Enforcement Powers In Hands Of Rightsholders. See also another article in Techdirt, When Even The Librarians Are Against SOPA.... Sorry ALA, no money, no influence. Don’t you know how Congress works? [MG]
This is your chance to say no to SOPA
Posted by: Ramon | Nov 19, 2011 8:08:13 AM