×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SOPA drops hot-button provision

Showbiz execs' info posted online as opposition rallies

The chief sponsor of a major anti-piracy bill pending in the House Judiciary Committee said he plans to remove one of its most controversial provisions.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he’s dropping a section of the Stop Online Piracy Act that would have required Internet providers to block domain name access to foreign sites that traffic in infringing content.

Opposition — ranging from Internet firms to public interest groups — has been fierce. The New York Times reported on Friday that online activist group Anonymous has posted online documents with private information about Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes and Viacom’s Sumner Redstone, apparently following through on threats made in a series of online videos posted on the web in November to protest the legislation by targeted major media companies. The Times reported that Bewkes has received threatening phone calls and has been flooded with e-mails.

While the vast majority of opponents have not employed those tactics, their criticism of the legislation has sounded alarm over the pending bills, warning that the language of the legislation would severely interfere with the architecture of the Internet and jeopardize innovation and growth. At least for now, their message appears to be far more potent than that of studio, union and other industry backers, which hae sought to win support with the message that the bills are needed to preserve American jobs lost from rampant piracy.In a statement, Smith said he concluded that the SOPA legislation’s backers should remove the domain name access provision “so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision.”

“We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers,” Smith said.

Smith noted that the legislation still contains provisions to “follow the money” — cutting off the funding of foreign sites from ad networks and payment processors. A provision that allows private partiers to bring claims against foreign sites by obtaining a court order to require that ad networks and payment processors stop the money flow remains. The legislation still contains provisions that would require search engines to disable links to such “rogue” sites.

The House Judiciary Committee adjourned in December before the completion of a markup hearing on the bill. It was apparent then that the legislation had enough votes to pass out of the committee, but opponents have mounted a fierce effort against the legislation since then, with some vowing to campaign against the bill’s supporters in their re-election races and pressuring web-hosting service GoDaddy to shift its stance from supporter to opponent.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), one of the chief opponents of the legislation, has proposed an alternative bill that would attempt to combat piracy via the International Trade Commission. He also has scheduled a Jan. 18 hearing before the House Oversight Committee, which he chairs, to examine the impact of domain name and search blocking on cybersecurity.

On Thursday, the chief sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), said he would propose that the domain name blocking provision of the bill be studied before implementation. Nevertheless, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) indicated that even if the provision were removed, he still would be opposed to the legislation because of other aspects of the bill. And as opponents flood congressional offices with e-mails and phone calls, there are signs that some previous supporters are reconsidering. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said on Friday that he would not vote for final passage of the legislation “as currently written.” House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he would call for a cloture vote on Jan. 24, but there has been pressure on him to postpone.

Meanwhile, it is doubtful that even removing the domain name provision will win over Internet firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Markham Erickson, executive director of the NetCoalition, which includes those companies, said that “significant amendments still need to be made,” as they remained opposed to provisions like search filtering and the right of private entities to take action.

Michael O’Leary, senior executive VP for global policy and external affairs at the MPAA, said the org believes that the changes to the legislation “will help forge an even broader consensus for legislative action.”

“We continue to believe that DNS filtering is an important tool, already used in numerous countries internationally to protect consumers and the intellectual proprty of businesses with targetd filters for rogue sites,” he said. “We are confident that any close examination of DNS screening will demonstrate that contrary to the claims of some critics, it will not break the Internet.”

More Film

  • Black Panther Movie

    Oscars: 'Black Panther' Leads Best Picture Nominees to Near-Record Box Office Grosses

    This year’s Academy Award nominees proved the Oscars don’t need a popular film category to recognize movies with huge box office grosses. The 2019 crop of best picture hopefuls have generated an impressive $1.26 billion so far in North America alone. That bounty is led by “Black Panther,” which earned a sensational $700 million at [...]

  • oscar nominations 2019 stream online

    How to Watch This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Films

    The 2019 Oscar nominations have been announced, and if you want to catch up on the nominees, we’ve rounded up some easy ways to watch or stream the original films, documentaries, and songs competing for an award. Period comedy “The Favourite” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” lead the pack with 10 nominations apiece, while “Green Book” [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Makes History for Poland

    Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production. The film will [...]

  • BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

    U.K. Cinema Attendance in 2018 Was Highest Since 1970

    Cinema attendance in the U.K. topped 177 million in 2018, the highest number since 1970. Box office held firm at £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through the year as 10 movies crossed the £30 million threshold in the year. That compares with six films in 2017. After a sweltering summer in the U.K. and a strong [...]

  • ASIB Roma Black Panther

    Vote: Which Movie Should Win the Oscar for Best Picture?

    The 91st Oscar nominations were unveiled on Tuesday with “Roma” and “The Favourite” leading the way with 10 nods each. “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s love-letter to his childhood nanny, is Netflix’s first-ever best picture nomination and could make history as the first foreign-language movie to ever win the top prize at the Academy Awards. Other best [...]

  • Göteborg TV Drama Vision Expects 60

    TV Drama Vision Set to Take Pulse of Nordic Commissioners’ Wish List

    More than 360 international delegates are expected at Göteborg’s 13th Nordic TV Drama Vision (Jan. 30-31) described by head of industry Cia Edström as a ‘boutique event’, where top Nordic and international drama professionals gather each year to gauge the state of the Nordic market and hot content. For the first time, to comply with the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content