Facebook, Google oppose US online piracy bills

Nov 15, 2011
A person sits outside the US Capitol building in Washington, DC. Internet heavyweights Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo! joined ranks Tuesday to oppose legislation in the US Congress designed to crack down on online piracy.

Internet heavyweights Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo! joined ranks on Tuesday to oppose legislation in the US Congress intended to crack down on online piracy.

In a joint letter, the firms said they "support the bills' stated goals -- providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign 'rogue' websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting."

"Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding US Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites," they said in the letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees.

"We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity," the Internet giants said.

The separate bills introduced in the House and the Senate would give the US authorities more tools to crack down on "rogue" websites accused of piracy of movies, television shows and music and the sale of counterfeit goods.

The Stop Online Piracy Act has received some bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and is the House version of a bill introduced in the Senate in May known as the Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or Protect IP Act.

The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry, the Business Software Alliance, the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and other groups.

But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organizations for allegedly paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.

The Obama administration has come in for some criticism for shutting down dozens of "rogue" websites over the past year as part of a crackdown known as "Operation in Our Sites."

The websites which have been shut down include dozens selling mostly Chinese-made counterfeit goods, including golf clubs, Walt Disney movies, handbags and other items.

In the letter, the Internet companies said "we cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign 'rogue' websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting."

House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, has said the bill "helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.

"The bill prevents online thieves from selling counterfeit goods in the US, expands international protections for intellectual property, and protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit products," Smith said.

The House Judiciary Committee is to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.

In addition to Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo!, the other companies signing the letter were AOL, eBay, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Zynga.

Explore further: Russia's Putin calls the Internet a 'CIA project'

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User comments : 21

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Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (9) Nov 15, 2011
Guess I'll say it again for good measure.

This bill is unwise on at least two fronts:

1) It delivers additional powers to police agencies that are unnecessary given the current laws on the books.

2) It is a frivolous measure that is taking the focus of Congress off of the economy, jobs, and budget decisions that should be top priority right now.
Norezar
5 / 5 (13) Nov 15, 2011
I personally don't believe laws concerning the internet should be even up for debate when enacted by cranky old men who probably can't set the clock on their microwave.
Deesky
5 / 5 (5) Nov 15, 2011
The legislation has received the backing of Hollywood, the music industry

No kidding, since the pressure to legislate was instigated by the very same industries!
CreepyD
5 / 5 (4) Nov 16, 2011
They need to stop trying to control what can't be controlled and make money in other ways. Adapt or go out of business, simples.
There must be a way of still making cash from pirated downloads and such (oh wait they do already).
CHollman82
2.7 / 5 (12) Nov 16, 2011
The country is digging itself into a hole of debt that it will never climb out of, our currency is devaluing so fast I'd rather carry Canadian currency (living close to the border with Canada this is an option for me), and we are slipping behind every other developed nation in the world in terms of education but what do we choose to spend our time and efforts on... helping the huge multinational record labels and movie houses maintain multi-billion dollar profits.

Corruption will ruin this country. The government should have no part in this, it only does so because the aforementioned entities hold significant political sway due to their massive wealth which they use to buy politicians that will push their agenda.
shwhjw
1 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2011
There must be a way of still making cash from pirated downloads and such (oh wait they do already).


The thing that bugs me the most is that every pirate copy represents a lost sale. If I wanted to find one particular 5-second clip of Bill Bailey on Youtube, I'm not going to go and buy the box set of Buzzcocks just for that, am I?
Royale
5 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
You're right shwhjw. I know one person that pirates EVERYTHING. All digital media. The bottom line for him, though, is he wouldn't buy any of it even if there was no such thing as pirating.
I personally choose to pay for netflix but I won't get HBO just for True Blood, I won't get Showtime just for Weeds and Dexter. They're not lost sales in any way. As a matter of fact I could argue that my word of mouth from those shows I wouldn't otherwise watch has actually helped them.
btb101
5 / 5 (4) Nov 16, 2011
why is it that you can test drive a car but you can not listen to an album in full?
why is it that your next home can be throughly inspected but you can not watch a movie before you have to pay for it?
why is that that demo games and software are always better than the final product but you won't know that til you buy it...

any person who pirates software, music, films will tell you.. they only beta-test. if the product is as good as the hype..
they would buy it.
mw3 made $400 mil on day of release. and you can still find it on pirate sites.
if they marketed good items not rubbish more people would be inclined to buy, not download.
CHollman82
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 16, 2011
Exactly, Battlefield 3 for example had 3 million pre-orders and 10 million copies shipped in the first 3 days. That's 500,000,000 in sales in THREE DAYS... and it is widely available to pirate for both PC and PS3.

Skyrim is set to sell $450,000,000 worth in it's first week as well, and that was available to pirate several days before it's release, I know because I got it just so I could play it before it was actually released.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2011
why is it that you can test drive a car but you can not listen to an album in full?
why is it that your next home can be throughly inspected but you can not watch a movie before you have to pay for it?
why is that that demo games and software are always better than the final product but you won't know that til you buy it...

any person who pirates software, music, films will tell you.. they only beta-test. if the product is as good as the hype..
they would buy it.
mw3 made $400 mil on day of release. and you can still find it on pirate sites.
if they marketed good items not rubbish more people would be inclined to buy, not download.


Whenever I hear this kind of crap, I just pretend that the people saying it must be very young (teen or preteen), and that they will eventually grow up and stop believing that their "belief" that it's OK equates to it actually being OK.

Theft is theft. And if foolish people didn't make stupid decisions, we wouldn't need this law at all.
Standing Bear
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
The idea of our government passing laws made to 'shut down foreign websites' is a recipe for war! All these laws point to internal vulnerabilities. We are telling the world that we have an industry that is afraid of not only competition, but also its customers and to innovation. It is made to be deliberately flouted by any and all nations hostile to us. In the early fifties the idea was once floated by the red Chinese to put up satellites beaming down porn on us...this shortly after our McCarthyites continued passing more laws paranoid about this. Data CAN be made available to us from high orbit satellites. Suppose next that will lead to a black market in newly illegalized radio/data recievers....or the criminalization of the possession of personal computers in homes all to benefit a movie industry that is not American owned anyway?
CHollman82
2.5 / 5 (11) Nov 16, 2011
Whenever I hear this kind of crap, I just pretend that the people saying it must be very young (teen or preteen), and that they will eventually grow up and stop believing that their "belief" that it's OK equates to it actually being OK.

Theft is theft. And if foolish people didn't make stupid decisions, we wouldn't need this law at all.


Is it theft to overhear someone else' car radio? I didn't purchase that CD but I am enjoying it nonetheless... I should be hauled off to jail right? Is it theft to gather at a friends house and watch a pay per view sporting event? After all the entire group benefits from something that was only payed for once.

"Theft" is not as cut and dry a concept as you would like it to be when it involves intangibles such as information and media.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
The idea of our government passing laws made to 'shut down foreign websites' is a recipe for war! All these laws point to internal vulnerabilities. We are telling the world that we have an industry that is afraid of not only competition, but also its customers and to innovation. It is made to be deliberately flouted by any and all nations hostile to us. In the early fifties the idea was once floated by the red Chinese to put up satellites beaming down porn on us...this shortly after our McCarthyites continued passing more laws paranoid about this. Data CAN be made available to us from high orbit satellites. Suppose next that will lead to a black market in newly illegalized radio/data recievers....or the criminalization of the possession of personal computers in homes all to benefit a movie industry that is not American owned anyway?


Just checking here, as it was a little unclear. Do you realize you can get data from satellites NOW?
CHollman82
1 / 5 (6) Nov 16, 2011
How about this one:

Is it theft for me to obtain information in a way that does not negatively affect any other person? Because that is what 95% of piracy is.

Most things that are pirated would simply not be purchased otherwise. The acquisition of that information (and that's what it is, digital information, it is not a tangible good) has no negative affect on anyone. That is why these companies that are crying about piracy cannot demonstrate any detrimental effect from it, in most cases their profits have drastically increased since piracy entered the mainstream...
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
Is it theft to overhear someone else' car radio? I didn't purchase that CD but I am enjoying it nonetheless... I should be hauled off to jail right? Is it theft to gather at a friends house and watch a pay per view sporting event? After all the entire group benefits from something that was only payed for once.

"Theft" is not as cut and dry a concept as you would like it to be when it involves intangibles such as information and media.


lol, this looks familiar. From the last time this article came up.

The radio analogy is way off. The advertisers are paying for it to be publicly broadcast. Different model.

Not sure about the pay-per-view; I've never used it. My guess would be the homeowner's (customer) contract allows it. This would be a contractual issue between customer/vendor.

Dowload and don't pay? That's theft. Period. Even though a few people wish it wasn't.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
How about this one:

Is it theft for me to obtain information in a way that does not negatively affect any other person? Because that is what 95% of piracy is.


Theft...is theft. Negative/positive outcomes do not apply to the definition. Taking what doesn't belong to you = theft.

Most things that are pirated would simply not be purchased otherwise.


Again, doesn't matter. Your purchase motivations don't change the definition of theft.

The acquisition of that information has no negative affect on anyone.


Not sure how you can conclude this. Clearly, lawyers, judges, financial analysts, and content creators all disagree with you.

CHollman82
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 16, 2011
All you're doing is referencing the current laws on the books, if I wanted that I would go to the library and check out law books... I don't give a rats ass about the current laws, this discussion is (or should be) above and beyond that. People with brains think for themselves, they don't just parrot what others have told them... let's have a discussion where we use our brains please.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 17, 2011
All you're doing is referencing the current laws on the books, if I wanted that I would go to the library and check out law books... I don't give a rats ass about the current laws, this discussion is (or should be) above and beyond that. People with brains think for themselves, they don't just parrot what others have told them... let's have a discussion where we use our brains please.


I disagree. We already know the laws on the books. This law would only be additive in nature. In other words, there is no plausible scenario where your idea of "theft is OK" will pan out. So, in that sense, what exactly do you want to talk about? Your fantasy life where you can be a crook and get away with it? Sorry, no time for that.
astro_optics
not rated yet Nov 20, 2011
I wonder if Hollywood would like it if everyone lost interest in pirating/downloading their content??? Surely the ex-downloaders would be better of, at least when it comes to their mental health.... not so sure about Hollywood!
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2011
I disagree. We already know the laws on the books. This law would only be additive in nature. In other words, there is no plausible scenario where your idea of "theft is OK" will pan out.


All you are doing is parroting the law... Like I said, this discussion should not be bound by the notion that the law is always right. If I do some action, and that action causes no negative effect on anyone, that action should not be illegal, period. There are cases where what is currently called "piracy" fits that description. As a student living on loans and a part time job I will admit to pirating a few very expensive programs (3D modelling programs mostly). I used these programs for my classes and they would have cost me thousands of dollars, if I couldn't have obtained them for free I would NOT have bought them, I would have used free or cheaper (worse) alternatives like most of my classmates. I did not hurt anyone by doing that, the companies did not lose a penny due to my actions.
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2011
How can you say that an action that causes no harm to anyone should be illegal and punishable by fines of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars?

It's called corruption. It's called having the government in your pocket and working for you. Forget about whether or not the persons actions actually cause any harm if the companies that own the government can profit off of them.

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