Tech gets its day in Congress as SOPA fight continues

justice blind

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; and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com, will testify before Congress.

At the previous SOPA hearing, the tech industry was represented by a single Google 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.

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