The leading supporters of legislation to attack overseas web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment say that they’re prepared to address some legislators’ concerns about potential threats to legitimate Internet businesses. “I think you’ll see some movement,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. But he adds that it probably won’t be enough to stop tech companies from opposing the bill — known in the House as the Stop Online Piracy Act and in the Senate as Protect IP Act. Some of them “have no intention of agreeing” to a compromise, he says, because they “want the current state of play to continue.” The comments came in a briefing that included the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employee’s Union. They’re eager to communicate the industry’s reasons for supporting the legislation that would give federal officials the authority to block overseas web sites that sell copyrighted work without the owners’ permission. “Our opposition does not feel constrained by a need to tell the truth,” says Kathy Garmezy, DGA’s Associate Executive Director for Goverment and International Affairs. Tech companies who say that SOPA might violate civil liberties, she adds, are merely trying “to gin people up into a frenzy.”
That appears to be working. The bill has “a lot of hurdles” to overcome, O’Leary says — although he adds that “we will win this argument on the merits.” He blasted an alternative idea, which Google supports, to just police transactions that involve pirated content. “There are no (concrete) proposals,” O’Leary says. “It’s a pretext for running out the clock.” He also challenged Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) who has threatened to filibuster the legislation. “We don’t believe he has the votes” needed to keep that going, O’Leary says. The Obama administration has not officially taken a position on SOPA, but O’Leary says that Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have made “encouraging statements.” Garmezy says that the bill would save jobs by protecting home video sales of movies and TV shows. “That’s what digital theft destroys,” she says.
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