Obama Expected to Sign Anti-Piracy Bill SOPA

According to Brendan Sasso of the authoritative blog The Hill, the House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) expects President Obama to sign the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that he sponsored in the House, if supported by Congress.  This bill has sparked a lot of debate about whether it infringes on free speech.  “I expect that the administration will support the bill because it helps create jobs for American workers and makes it harder for online thieves to steal America’s products and profits,” asserts Smith.

The bill would enable copyright holders, in conjunction wit the Justice Department, to compel search engines, advertising networks, and internet providers to block access from any websites that facilitate the illegal download of copyrighted content.  A spokesperson for the administration communicated that the President’s Chief Adviser on Intellectual Property Issues has discussed SOPA with several players associated with the industry, including technology companies, copyright holders, internet freedom advocates, and advocacy groups.

“The Stop Online Piracy Act addresses the problem of counterfeit products and online theft of intellectual property.  The bill protects American jobs and ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators” said Smith.  It is estimated that over $16 billion is stolen from the American economy through websites like The Pirate Bay.

As anyone would expect, the bill is strongly backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hollywood, the recording industry, and organized labor in the entertainment industry.  However, powerful players like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook adamantly oppose it, warning that it could stifle both innovation and free speech.  Google Chairman Eric Schmidt went so far as to say that the bill would actually criminalize the internet, and that the censorship would be a step toward the United States becoming an authoritarian tyranny.

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