When House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and his bipartisan cosponsors last month introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), I said in a press statement that the bill would have to balance key innovation, privacy and security considerations with the need to thwart the threat rogue websites pose before BSA can give its support to SOPA. This remains the case.
Last week, when the Committee held a hearing on SOPA, I listened carefully to Members' statements and questions as to how this balance would be achieved. It is evident from what I heard that much work remains ahead for the Committee.
I believe the bill's basic goals should be to promote creativity -- something software and computer companies are very good at -- while deterring bad actors that profit from selling copies of software and other works they do not own. BSA firmly believes these goals are compatible and achievable.
The idea behind SOPA, as Chairman Smith explained at last week's hearing, is to remove pirates' ability to profit from their theft. We think that is the right approach as long as it is done with a fine touch.
Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors. To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed. Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights cannot be compromised. And the security of networks and communications is indispensable to a thriving Internet economy. Some observers have raised reasonable questions about whether certain SOPA provisions might have unintended consequences in these areas. BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the Internet. All of these concerns should be duly considered and addressed.
BSA stands ready to work with Chairman Smith and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to resolve these issues.
This post was also featured on the Business Software Alliance's blog, BSA TechPost. The Business Software Alliance is a trade group that represents software makers against copyright infringement.