SOPA sparks backlash from Facebook, Google

Big Internet brands including Google and Facebook have lined up oppose  the new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill that is being debated in Congress.

Some of the Internet’s biggest names are threatening to leave the US Chamber of Commerce over a bill that would make Web companies liable for pirated content that appears on their sites. Last month, Yahoo quit the business trade group, which supports the legislation. Google and the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents 2,200 firms, are warning they may do the same.

“Given the fact that their mission is to grow the American economy, sponsoring legislation that would harm one sector that is perhaps the brightest spot of the economy is short-sighted,” said CEA senior vice president Michael Petricone. “It makes one wonder what their membership will be like in the future.”

When asked whether CEA would drop its membership, he replied: “We are constantly reassessing groups we are members of.”

The legislation could punish Web firms if copyrighted movies, songs or software appear on their sites. But it would address long-standing concerns from Hollywood studios, record labels and publishing houses, which claim to lose $135 billion in revenues each year from piracy and counterfeiting, according to Chamber estimates.

The Chamber would not comment specifically on the decisions of individual members. But it argued that the proposals moving through the House and Senate would improve the quality of media content online and thus benefit Web firms.

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