Hollywood-backed legislation to fight online piracy, shelved this year after an Internet protest led by Google Inc. (GOOG) and Wikipedia, is “dead,” said the head of the trade group for the largest movie studios.
The Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA, is “history,” Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America, said in an interview for “Conversations with Judy Woodruff” on Bloomberg Television set to air this weekend. “It’s gone. In my view, it’s dead.”
The organization representing studios including Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures had built bipartisan backing for the bill in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate through late last year. The bills would have given government and copyright holders more tools to crack down on non-U.S. websites that offer pirated content.
Congress shelved the legislation in January after Google and Wikipedia led an Internet protest against the bills, saying the measures would promote online censorship, disrupt the Web’s architecture and harm their ability to innovate.
“The issue hasn’t gone away,” said Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who served three decades in the U.S. Senate. “In fact, even those from the technology community, the overwhelming majority, believe that we must do something about intellectual property.”
Dodd called the Internet protest a “watershed event” that globalized an issue that previously didn’t have a large audience. He said the Stop Online Piracy Act “went further than it probably should have.”
The anti-piracy bills supported by the studio trade group would have let the Justice Department seek court orders forcing Internet-service providers, search engines, payment processors and online ad networks to block or stop doing business with non- U.S. sites linked to selling counterfeit goods.
The measures would also have let private copyright holders seek court orders to require payment services and advertising companies to cut off such websites.
Asked about a compromise, Dodd said there is a “constant conversation,” without providing detail.
“Right now we’re in an election year,” he said. “The Congress has got a lot of other things on their minds other than copyright and intellectual property. But there’ll be a new session next year.”
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernie Kohn at Bkohn2@bloomberg.net.