The hotly-contested ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ is due to be debated in by the House lawmakers in a hearing Thursday morning at 10 a.m. ET, despite the best efforts of opponents to kill the bill earlier in the week and postpone the hearing by staging virtual protests and flooding members of Congress with calls.
Still, just hours before the hearing on Thursday, the myriad Web companies and advocacy groups against the bill stepped up their efforts to persuade lawmakers not to vote it out of committee and into the full House, the next step toward passage.
Supporters of the bill — namely Hollywood industry groups and the AFL-CIO — also came out in full force, commissioning full-page print ads in the Washington Post and earlier in the week in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a copy of the ad that ran in Thursday’s edition of the Washington Post.
SOPA’s opponents have also struck back with print ads of their own: Even though their companies have already papered members of Congress with numerous letters opposed to SOPA, leading tech executives, including Google co-founder and CEO Sergey Brin and venture capital titan Marc Andreessen, penned a new, more personal letter directly to lawmakers that is also running as an ad in Thursday’s Washington Post and New York Times.
“We urge Congress to think hard before changing the regulation that underpins the Internet. Let’s not deny the next generation of entrepreneurs the same opportunities we all had,” the letter concludes.
SOPA, which was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who is also presiding over Thursday’s hearing, seeks to crack down on so-called “rogue” websites, foreign websites that “facilitate” piracy of U.S. intellectual property, including everything from Hollywood movies and TV shows to pharmaceuticals. The bill gives the Attorney General the power to request cease-and-desist orders for U.S. search engines, other websites and companies that would force them to sever ties to websites accused of piracy by copyright holders. Critics charge the bill would “break the Internet,” stifle Freedom of Speech and innovation, and make the Web less secure by forcing users to evade blocked websites by using less-secure work-arounds.
POPVOX, a company that measures in realtime sentiment of constituents and advocacy groups sent to Congress about a bill, currently records 98 percent against SOPA.
We’ll be covering the hearing live here, so stay tuned.