Congressman blasts Google's stance on piracy bill

Thu Dec 1, 2011 4:48pm EST

A photo of the Google Inc. logo is shown on a computer screen in San Francisco, California July 16, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

A photo of the Google Inc. logo is shown on a computer screen in San Francisco, California July 16, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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WASHINGTON (TheWrap.com) - Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) continued a barrage of support for proposed online anti-piracy legislation Thursday, calling claims that such a law would threaten internet freedoms "blatantly false."

He also took a shot at Google, which has spoken out against the bill, calling its opposition "self-serving."

In a Thursday post on National Review Online, Smith said the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would only target websites specifically "dedicated" to illegal activity -- such as distributing pirated films or selling bogus pharmaceuticals.

Smith chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is the lead sponsor of the bill.

His post followed a Wednesday-afternoon teleconference with reporters during which representatives for the Motion Picture Association of America, the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees came out in fiery support of SOPA.

Smith wrote that Congress could not sit back "while some of America's most profitable and productive industries are under attack" to the tune of $100 billion a year.

According to Smith, SOPA would block revenue to rogue websites, the majority of which are located outside U.S. jurisdiction.

The bill would authorize the attorney general to pursue a rogue website only after "a federal judge agrees that the website in question is dedicated to illegal and infringing activity."

The judge would then issue court order "directing companies to sever ties with the illegal website," Smith wrote.

He rejected claims that SOPA could shut down law-abiding websites because they inadvertently hosted an infringing link.

"Websites like Facebook and YouTube that host user content are not 'dedicated to' illegal activity, and they certainly do not make a business out of 'facilitating' the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit or pirated goods," Smith wrote.

He said that third-party intermediaries, such as credit-card companies and online-ad providers, would only be required to cease working with the rogue site -- they could not be held liable for the illegal actions.

Smith says the First Amendment does not protect illegal activity, and went on to compare online piracy to child pornography.

"Like online piracy, child pornography is a billion-dollar business operated online. It is also illegal. That's why law enforcement officials are authorized to block access to child-porn sites," he wrote.

He also made a pointed jab at tech giant Google, an outspoken critic of SOPA.

"Unfortunately, there are some critics of this legislation who are not serious about helping to protect America's intellectual property. That's because they've made large profits by working with and promoting rogue sites to U.S. consumers. Google recently paid half a billion dollars to settle a criminal case because of the search-engine giant's active promotion of rogue foreign pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients. Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites."

Representatives from Motion Picture Association of America, a staunch defender of SOPA, on Wednesday called Google's professed animus against piracy "rhetoric."

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