On Wednesday the House of Representatives held its first hearing about a bill that has sharply divided the technology and media industries, the Stop Online Piracy Act.
- The bill -- along with a companion in the Senate, the Protect IP Act -- could compel private Internet search providers and search engines to block certain Web sites that are accused of posting illegal, copyright-infringing content.
Advocates for the bills say that they are trying to protect content creators and put a halt to the illegal sharing of files and products. These advocates include major media companies like Viacom and Comcast as well as media associations like the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA for short.
- Opponents say that the bills go too far and set up a form of Internet censorship. These opponents include technology companies like Google, Facebook and Zynga as well as public interest groups, some of whom set up a Web site, AmericanCensorship.org, to bring attention to the issue. The Broadcasting & Cable reporter John Eggerton framed the battle thusly:
- One of the tech companies opposed to the bills, the blogging site Tumblr, put up a filter on Wednesday that imagined what its site could look like if the Internet were censored:
- CNET reporter Declan McCullagh published a thorough summary of Wednesday's House hearing:
- He also noticed what seemed like misinformation from the MPAA:
- Testimony by the MPAA was published online as a PDF. Michael O'Leary of the MPAA said that the bill only targets "illicit sites and services that are dedicated to the theft of copyrighted works."
- For a time on Wednesday, the topic was trending on Twitter as users reacted to the opponents' online campaign against the bills.
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