CEA speaks out against SOPA

The SOPA anti-piracy bill might be strongly backed by the Hollywood community, but the Consumer Electronics Association – the group behind the annual Consumer Electronics Show – wants no part of it. Pirate_flag

In a statement to the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 3261 – the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (or SOPA) – the organization voiced concerns about the bill, warning of collateral damage to innovation in the electronics field.

“CEA and its members are eager to support legislation that is directed to foreign ‘rogue sites’ – the ‘worst of the worst’ – whose infringing activities lie beyond the reach of existing U.S. authority, and have no conceivable justification under U.S. law,” the group said. “But as written, H.R. 3261will do little to stop piracy and instead will undermine both bona fide online U.S. businesses, create new private causes of action and weaken the open Internet that encourages free expression.”

The group called the definition of theft “extremely overbroad” and said a single copyright complaint from a company can be a “death sentence” to a legitimate business.

“The law would require not just a ‘take down’ of the controversial product, but a shutdown of all online purchasing and advertising for any other product on the site,” the group said. “The plaintiff need only complain that the business is ‘marketing’ a product for a ‘use’ that would be copyright infringement.

“This sort of claim has been commonly, and often unsuccessfully, made against innovative and legitimate consumer electronics products. In 2000, such a claim was made by several motion picture studios against Replay TV, an early competitor of TiVo and a forerunner of the DVR products now routinely distributed by cable and satellite companies to their subscribers – based only on the product’s ability to search, record, index, and retrieve content.”

The group also said it believes DNS blocking provisions in the bill will hurt legitimate businesses more than pirates, since pirates are able to circumvent those measures.