US online piracy bill comes under fire

Wikipedia website founder Jimmy Wales criticised US legislation Stop Online Piracy Act, calling it "the greatest threat to the internet".

Mumbai: Wikipedia website founder Jimmy Wales, who recently visited Mumbai, criticised the Hollywood-backed US legislation Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), calling it "the greatest threat to the internet" at the London Cyberspace Conference today.

"The greatest threat to the internet is misguided and over-reaching government policy. Communities such as the users of Wikipedia were finding effective ways of policing
themselves, without government involvement," he said.

SOPA, which was introduced last month in the US House of Representatives at the behest of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and other large content holders, is designed to make allegedly pirated websites virtually disappear from the Internet.

Incidentally, the MPAA has posted promos on YouTube to plead its case.

The statement came shortly after Internet companies like Google, eBAy, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, Zynga, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Twitter ran full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Washington Times, as part of their efforts to fight back against the SOPA.

The European Parliament has also severely criticized SOPA and the proposed use of domain name seizures by US authorities on so-called copyright infringing websites.

The EU parliament has adopted, by a large majority, a resolution that "stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining
from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names".

Industry veterans like Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the bills like SOPA and Protect IP Act would give copyright holders and the US government, powers
to cut off websites unreasonably. They could be shut down, and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo could be stopped from linking to them, he said.

"The solutions are draconian. There`s a bill that would require Internet service providers to remove universal resource locators from the Web, which is also known as censorship, the last time I checked," he said.


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