Blog Post

Tech gets its day in Congress as SOPA fight continues

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has called a hearing that will bring more voices from the technology industry to Washington, D.C. to discuss how legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would affect the Internet. On Jan. 18, industry representatives that include Brad Burnham from Union Square Ventures; Lanham Napier, the CEO of Rackspace Hosting(s rax); and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of, will testify before Congress.

At the previous SOPA hearing, the tech industry was represented by a single Google (s goog) executive, while the five other participants testifying were from the content industry. Issa’s upcoming hearing, however, is not about SOPA directly. Issa — who is pushing his own version of an IP protection bill dubbed the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade, or OPEN, Act — is holding his hearing on how Congress can help protect IP without breaking the Internet. Perhaps it can also lead to  legislation that actually solves the problem of piracy a bit better as well. From his release:

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) today announced that the Full Committee will hold a hearing on January 18 to examine the potential impact of Domain Name Service (DNS) and search engine blocking on American cyber-security, jobs and the Internet community. In light of policy proposals affecting the way taxpayers access the Internet, the hearing will also explore federal government strategies to protect American intellectual property without adversely affecting economic growth. The Committee will hear testimony from top cyber-security experts and technology job creators.

This news comes amid some wins and losses around SOPA overall. Despite wrongly fingering Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as a co-sponsor of the SOPA bill, Reddit users appear to have forced the Wisconsin Congressman to take a stand against the legislation, while a look at the TV operations of news organizations whose parent companies are in support of SOPA show that those organizations are not covering the issue in depth for their viewers (but they are doing so online). As we wait for the next official SOPA markup hearing later this month (the last attempt to push the legislation out of committee was delayed over the Congressional recess), Issa’s hearing will be a chance for the tech community to make its points. Hopefully, someone in the House Judiciary Committee committee that’s holding the SOPA markups will be listening.

16 Responses to “Tech gets its day in Congress as SOPA fight continues”

  1. Josh Warhammer

    @ willa, do you understand the implications that if this passes it will have? Are you familiar with how DNS will now have a major flaw as far as security? I do not agree with online piracy but, I am against the type of control the government is trying to take as far a censorship over the internet.

  2. Because we’ve never seen copyright claims abused in the name of political gain rather than actual copyright infringement, right? Oh, wait. We have.

    I’m not in Google’s corner by a long shot, but claiming SOPA is the best way to stop piracy is hilarious. The further you go in taking Draconian measures to “stop” piracy, the more it flourishes. Taking down Napster was supposed to “stop” piracy.

    • If examples of abuse of copyright law can be used in the argument, it is a LOT easier to find examples of people abusing just copyrights. (Which is often overlooked by technocrats) I’m not supporter of SOPA but it is because I am fundamentally against big government and civil courts already exist to handle intellectual property suits. Anecdotal evidence here is fruitless.

      • I suppose we could burn down the house to get rid of rats but that’s a little drastic. Especially when the rats can smell the gasoline and end up leaving before you can light the match.

  3. The hyperbole circulating about SOPA is unfortunate, although not surprising. Do the anti-SOPA folks realize who is orchestrating the opposition and why? Google earns a great deal of revenue via websites that offer pirated and/or pirated content. They have a lot invested in keeping things just as they are.

    Tech companies seem to like to pick and choose what laws they like. Ask them how often they run to the courthouse to fight in cases where their patents/trademarks are threatened. Somehow copyright law isn’t held in the same regard.

    If you doubt Google’s complicity, look no further than their recent agreement to pay a HALF BILLION dollar fine to the feds for their ill-gotten gains off ads on illegal pharmacy sites (which have, btw, led to actual deaths due to counterfeit products).

    Our government regulates commerce every day. Why should illicit commerce online be exempt? Do we really want the internet to be a place where laws don’t apply?

    The fact is that online piracy is about money. It’s an illicit business model that is aided and abetted by those very same companies who oppose SOPA.

    It’s also disingenuous for the tech industry to whine about SOPA negatively impacting “innovation.” Look around—how much of what the tech industry’s income is predicated on content creators being able to create? We are bound together and it’s time we WORK together.

    The internet will not be broken. The only ones who will be are the thieves who now flourish.

    • There’s a minor difference. The abuse that you just referred to is a trademark issue, not copyright. the law in question basically hands the keys of internet justice over to content providers. my unserstanding of the proposed law in question basically says that any copyright holder can at will force the ISP’s to basically block anyone who is “accused” of violating copyright from american dns servers, and anyone that comes up with a viable means of bypassing this will be blocked as well. this has a chilling effect on the First Amendment. All it takes to boot someone off is basically someone stating (without any punitive damages for lying or being flat out wrong) is saying that the “abuser” pirated copyright material. So, if I were trying to shut politicans up that are critical to my views, I could copyright all my speeches therefore I could claim that anyone who posts the any of content of my speech without permission, is in violation of sopa, and would get shut down. This would affect all political pundits, news organizations, news aggregate sites, bloggers, and heck, anyone who happened to discuss anything about the political process. And, because of the fact that basicallly it’s out of the hands of the court system, by the time fair use can be proven, the information is no longer relevant, or at the very least useful.

    • Erich Lippert

      Way to sound like a Hollystupid shill! SOPA will fundamentally break the internet for everyone else, meanwhile pirates will simply work around it to continue doing as they wish.

    • Maya Osbourne

      I think your perception on the issue is backwards. The internet will be broken to those who use it in a casual manner. The internet will not be broken to the “thieves” who already know how to use the internet for their own gain. There are ways to bypass DNS blocking and it isn’t that difficult to do for someone who knows a thing or two about how their browser communicates with the internet. That being said… the SOPA bill will not stop online piracy, it will keep regular citizens from accessing services that have become an integral part of our lives. The techies and “thieves” will know how to get around the security measures put in place.

    • This wouldn’t even do anything to stop online piracy, as those that pirate are usually more technically minded. The bill blocks the DNS, but the IP (###.###.###) address can still be used to connect to the site if you know how.
      There are other ways to stop piracy, this censorship is not one of them. Remember back to the days of the tape deck? People recorded music off the radio, but we didn’t sensor the radio.

    • I oppose SOPA because I’ve actually read the bill. One of the many problems with the bill is inevitable GOVERNMENT IMPOSED CENSORSHIP OF NON-INFRINGING SITES. The bill operates based on completely uncontested allegations of infringement. There is not even a minimal civil court “preponderance of evidence” finding that ANY infringement actually exists at all.

    • FartNugget

      You are a fucking moron. You know nothing of the internet and the majority of users who value the freedom of information. Go do something productive, like trolling a chan board for pedobears.