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SOPA fight over 'Internet censorship' attracts Yahoo, Google

SOPA "jeopardizes" Internet business, claim Twitter, Google, Yahoo and others. The SOPA bill amounts to "Internet censorship," some argue.

By Matthew Shaer / November 17, 2011

Yahoo is one of nine Internet companies which publicly opposes the Stop Internet Privacy Act, or SOPA.

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Late last month, Lamar Smith, a Republican representative from Texas, introduced a bill called SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy act), which was intended to crack down on intellectual property theft, and put up barriers against what Smith termed "rogue" sites.

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"[T]he problem of rogue Web sites is real, immediate and widespread. It harms all sectors of the economy," Smith said, according to the Washington Post

(For what it's wroth, the SOPA bill in the House has a similar counterpart in the Senate called the PROTECT IP Act.)

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Over at Information Week, Paul McDougall offers up a run-down of five key provisions of the bill, which include the blocking of sites that provide copyrighted content – the Pirate Bay, for instance – and the targeting of websites that attempt to sell pharmaceuticals to individuals without prescriptions. McDougall quotes Pfizer security officer John Clark, who says "pharmaceutical counterfeiting is first and foremost an issue of patient health and safety."

The Post has reported that SOPA seems to have significant support, among both lawmakers, and Hollywood studios and pharmaceutical companies, who "argued during the hearing that they are losing an estimated $135 billion a year in pirated material." But SOPA has met with vociferous opposition from Web companies, who have called the bill "a full-on assault against lawful U.S. Internet companies." 

Earlier this week, nine tech titans, including Twitter, Yahoo, and Google, signed an open letter to congress, voicing opposition to SOPA. "[T]he bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites," the letter reads.

"We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continue track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our nation’s cyber security," the nine companies add. According to the Daily News, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking at an event at MIT, called the proposed SOPA provisions "draconian." 

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