UPDATE, 12:10 PM: Diplomacy is the order of the day for the MPAA in its response to the White House. The trade group says it’s still willing to work on a compromise. It hopes that “the Administration’s role in this debate now will help steer the attention to what can be accomplished and passed into law to protect American jobs,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. He adds: “Meaningful legislation must include measured and reasonable remedies that include ad brokers, payment processors and search engines.” Failure to pass an anti-piracy law “will result in overseas websites continuing to be a safe haven for criminals stealing and profiting from America.”
PREVIOUS, 9:53 AM: An online statement today from three White House officials indicates that President Obama sides with the tech community — and against Hollywood — in opposing proposals that give the government the right to block overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. The administration “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Special Assistant to the President Howard Schmidt write. Their concerns match the objections that tech companies have raised about two similar bills: the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act. The trio acknowledge that piracy is a serious problem that hurts “everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios.” But they called for new proposals that narrowly target “sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law,” focus on criminal activity, and protect Internet intermediaries including
online ad networks, payment processors, and search engines from “unjustified litigation that could discourage startup businesses and innovative firms from growing.” The officials say that they’d like to see voluntary initiatives to fight piracy. Meanwhile, they vowed to “continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis” on a compromise that “provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting” but also preserves “an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation.”
The anti-piracy bills were already in trouble before the White House statement. Yesterday a major SOPA supporter, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), agreed to ditch the bill’s requirement that Internet service providers block infringing websites. Today SOPA opponent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Cal.) said he will postpone a hearing scheduled for this Wednesday. “While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” he says. Majority Leader Eric Cantor “has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.