The war of words continues between the movie lobby and Internet interests over proposed anti-piracy legislation, with Michael O’Leary, Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs at the Motion Picture Association of America rounding on Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s comments delivered at the Economic Club of Washington DC.
“Today, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt again engaged in ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric in attacking important legislation that targets criminals who profit from online piracy and counterfeiting. This legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act, offers needed tools to target criminals while preserving free speech, creativity and American jobs,” stated O’Leary.
“Schmidt’s comment that the legislation ‘criminalises the intermediaries’ is a new weapon in their arsenal of hyperbole. There is broad recognition that all companies in the Internet ecosystem have a serious responsibility to target criminal activity. This type of rhetoric only serves as a distraction and I hope it is not a delaying tactic,” he said.
“Schmidt’s pleading with the audience to please stop stealing could be bolstered by Google taking concrete steps to deal with the growing problem of rogue websites. Failing to act is not an option. We should be focused on solutions to the growing problem of criminals who reap profits at the expense of the American economy while preying on consumers through rogue websites,” he declared.
Subsequently, the House Judiciary Committee its plan to mark up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation on Thursday morning and unveiled a manager’s amendment from Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that attempts to dispel some of the criticism by tightening the language and definitions in the bill.
Smith issued strongly-worded statement late Monday questioning Google’s motives for opposing 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 promoting rogue sites to US consumers. Google recently paid a half 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 US patients. As a result of their actions, the health and lives of many American patients may have been endangered. Their opposition to this legislation is self-serving since they profit from doing business with rogue sites.”