Microsoft anti-piracy group slams copyright bill
It was no surprise when Google and other web firms stood up against a new US piracy bill, but now a major anti-piracy group is, too.
The Business Software Association initially came out in favour of SOPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act, currently working its way through US legislation. Now, the BSA has followed the lead of Google, Twitter and Facebook by telling US politicians the bill needs work.
CEO Robert Holleyman said the BSA – which counts Microsoft, Adobe and Intel among its members – supported the end goal of SOPA, and agreed that protecting online content would require shutting down pirates’ ability to make money.
Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights cannot be compromised
However, after listening to the politicians introduce and argue for the bill at a committee meeting last week, he said: “It is evident from what I heard that much work remains ahead for the committee.
“Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill,” he said in a BSA blog post. “It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors.
“To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed,” he said.
One major criticism of the bill is that it removes a safe harbour clause in existing legislation. At the moment, websites avoid legal trouble if they promptly follow take-down notices, but SOPA could put the onus on them to keep their sites free of infringing content, causing legal trouble for the likes of YouTube.
“Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights that cannot be compromised,” the anti-piracy campaigner said.
Holleyman also noted the plans could leave the web less secure.
“And the security of networks and communications is indispensable to a thriving internet economy,” Hollyman said.
“Some observers have raised reasonable questions about whether certain SOPA provisions might have unintended consequences in these areas,” he added. “BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the internet.”