MPAA Blasts Websites Planning SOPA Protest Blackouts

Tomorrow the main pages of Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites will go dark to protest support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives which is so wide-ranging in effect that it threatens to curb not only piracy and illegal activity, but the method of information use which characterizes the internet. (There is also the associated Protect IP act in the Senate.)

One big target of SOPA is any site that operates like The Pirate Bay. That is, sites outside the US that host or point to intellectual property copyrighted in the US. Others are foreign sites that scrape and steal content — sites such as a few that take /Film-written content on a daily basis, for example.

If SOPA passes, however, the power to shut down web sites in the US will be unprecedented. The US attorney general could shut down websites by asking courts to order ISPs to block access to them from within the US. And the fine print creates power to block sites — even legitimate sites — suspected or accused of copyright infringement, or those that link to sites that infringe copyright. That block could go into action very quickly, with little if any warning to the website.

Under SOPA, sites like /Film could well end up not being able to exist. Any one complaint about how we have used a video clip or song could shut us down. Potentially, even a scoop about an upcoming film could result in destructive action. The indiscriminate power created by SOPA is the reason for the protests by many internet giants.

One of the big supporters of SOPA, however, is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA), which likes to blame piracy for a wide variety of industry ills. Today, in what seems like a hot-headed move, MPAA chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd issued a statement blasting companies planning SOPA protests. Read it after the break.

Here’s the MPAA statement:

WASHINGTON —The following is a statement by Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on the so-called “Blackout Day” protesting anti-piracy legislation:

“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.

It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

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