* Google says innocent sites could be hurt by bill
* Plaintiffs could go direct to advertisers, payment firms
* Hollywood, record labels throw support behind bill
By Jasmin Melvin
WASHINGTON, Nov 16 Google Inc warned
U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday that proposed legislation to crack
down on foreign websites selling pirated U.S. movies, music or
other counterfeit goods goes too far and could depress
The legislation has pit Internet giants, consumer groups
and first amendment advocates against the U.S. copyright
industries, including Hollywood studios and record labels, who
have long argued for tougher protection.
A U.S. House of Representatives bill would allow a private
party to go straight to a website's advertising and payment
providers and request they sever ties.
"A corporation, a copyright 'troll,' or anyone with an axe
to grind could send a notice... without first involving law
enforcement or triggering any judicial process," Google policy
counsel Katherine Oyama told a House Judiciary Committee
She urged lawmakers to instead work on legislation that
cuts off revenue to rogue sites via the courts and avoids the
"collateral damage" built into the current form of the bill.
Google was the only witness against the bill on a
six-person panel at the hearing.
Google, Yahoo! Inc , Facebook, Twitter, eBay Inc and other Internet companies ran full-page
advertisements in major newspapers on Wednesday, urging
lawmakers to rethink their approach.
Proponents of the legislation say current law leaves few
options for copyright holders whose products end up on foreign
"It's a choice between protecting American creativity and
jobs or protecting thieves," Michael O'Leary, in charge of
global policy and external affairs for the Motion Picture
Association of America, told the hearing.
The U.S. Justice Department, under the bill, could also
request court orders to compel U.S. search engines and other
sites to block domain names or search results.
But Google told lawmakers that too many innocent websites
could fall victim to the legislation without due process.
Investors and venture capitalists in a study issued
Wednesday by consulting firm Booz and Co overwhelmingly said
they would not invest in Internet start-ups if new laws allowed
websites to be sued or fined for pirated digital content posted
Google's Oyama said the current language of the Stop Online
Piracy Act unintentionally sweeps in a considerable number of
lawful websites with its broad definition of a site that is
dedicated to stealing U.S. property.
"As long as there is money to be made pushing pirated and
counterfeit products, tech-savvy criminals around the world
will find ways to sell these products online," she said.
"Ordering ISPs and search engines to 'disappear' websites
will not change this fundamental reality," Oyama said.
A copyright bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in
September, but without the notice procedure that allows parties
to contact payment providers and advertising services of