Support Fading for Anti-Online Piracy Bill
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Most people would agree that online piracy of copyrighted material is wrong, but support for a bill that is meant to curb the practice is rapidly losing support in the U.S. Congress after protests over what some say is flawed legislation that could hurt free speech and business.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri is the latest lawmaker to end their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, following a massive black-out protest on Wednesday of websites like Wikipedia and Reddit. On Thursday, Blunt called the proposed legislation flawed.
The proposed legislation would target online file-sharing websites, along with pirated video websites which currently operate in Europe. But many people feel that the legislation is written in such a way that legal file-sharing would be targetted as well.
“A number of these large companies said wait a second, the way that the act has been written is so broad it could include us,” said UMKC Law professor Jasmine Abdel-Khalik. She says that copyrighting gives incentives for creativity, but protecting a copyright should not be to the detriment of free speech or business.
“The question is whether the methodology of how they’re going to prevent the piracy is one that will cause problems greater than the solutions that it will offer,” said Abdel-Khalik.
Michael Burns, owner of Surefoot Communications – a Lenexa-based communications company, participated in Wednesday’s protests. He says that he fears the impact that SOPA will have on his clients.
“It basically strikes fear into everybody of getting sued for something,” said Burns. “If people sit back and accept that, then we’ll lose a lot of flexibility creativity, a lot of freedom of speech.”
Opponents of SOPA also say that they have concerns about how those suspected of having pirated material would be informed, and that the responsibility would fall on them in court to prove that they don’t have pirated content, or that they have a fair-use defense.
SOPA still has a number of supporters, including former U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, who warned of cutting campaign funds to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign because the President does not support the bill.
“Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake,” said Dodd.