- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Hands off the Internet” (Comment & Analysis, Thursday) uses unfounded assertions to criticize important legislation in Congress that protects America’s innovators and job creators.

The Washington Times claims that the Stop Online Piracy Act would allow “federal bureaucrats to censor the Internet.” But there is no language in the act that would allow anyone to “censor the Internet.” Enforcing our intellectual property laws against foreign criminals is not censorship.

Critics of the Stop Online Piracy Act rely on hyperbole rather than reality. But their claims are not backed up by facts. Perhaps they don’t want to be held accountable for directing consumers to illegal websites. Google’s opposition to the bill is self-serving since the company profits from doing business with rogue sites that steal and sell America’s intellectual property. The search engine giant recently paid $500 million to settle a criminal case because of the company’s active promotion of foreign rogue pharmacies that sold counterfeit and illegal drugs to U.S. patients.

The problem of rogue websites is real and widespread. One recent survey found that nearly a quarter of global Internet traffic infringes on copyrights. According to estimates, intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.

The Stop Online Piracy Act helps American innovators and job creators by protecting America’s intellectual property from foreign criminals. The bill specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal and infringing activity. Domestic websites, including blogs and social networking sites, are not covered by this legislation. And no action can be taken against a foreign illegal website without a court order from a federal judge.

The Stop Online Piracy Act protects free speech and America’s intellectual property. The First Amendment is not an excuse for illegal activity. Simply because the illegal activity occurs online does not mean that it is protected speech.

What’s more, the Stop Online Piracy Act does not threaten online freedoms. But it does threaten the profits generated by those who willfully steal intellectual property by trafficking in counterfeit or pirated goods.

REP. LAMAR SMITH

Texas Republican

Chairman, House Judiciary Committee

Washington


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