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SOPA Needs Work to Address Innovation Considerations

When House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith and his bipartisan cosponsors last month introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), I said in a press statement that the bill would have to balance key innovation, privacy and security considerations with the need to thwart the threat rogue websites pose before BSA can give its support to SOPA.  This remains the case.

Last week, when the Committee held a hearing on SOPA, I listened carefully to Members’ statements and questions as to how this balance would be achieved. It is evident from what I heard that much work remains ahead for the Committee.

I believe the bill’s basic goals should be to promote creativity — something software and computer companies are very good at — while deterring bad actors that profit from selling copies of software and other works they do not own. BSA firmly believes these goals are compatible and achievable.

The idea behind SOPA, as Chairman Smith explained at last week’s hearing, is to remove pirates’ ability to profit from their theft. We think that is the right approach as long as it is done with a fine touch.

Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors. To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed. Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights that cannot be compromised. And the security of networks and communications is indispensable to a thriving Internet economy. Some observers have raised reasonable questions about whether certain SOPA provisions might have unintended consequences in these areas. BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the Internet. All of these concerns should be duly considered and addressed.

BSA stands ready to work with Chairman Smith and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to resolve these issues.

Robert Holleyman

Author:

As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

36 thoughts on “SOPA Needs Work to Address Innovation Considerations”

  1. Or a better idea would be to drop SOPA ALL TOGETHER!!! Seriously, this is going to do NOTHING to fight piracy. If the bill passes, people who pirate will still find ways to pirate software, no exception. Obviously, pirates don’t care about laws, and if new ones passes, it still won’t stop them All this will do is put innocent computer users in jail and punish people who don’t even pirate.

    This is coming from someone who buys their software, movies, games, and music legally, and never downloads illegally (I like the real deal). If this bill is passed, I could picture someone being thrown in jail just because they’re using a cartoon character they like as a forum icon or something, or in software case, doing a video tutorial to teach others.

    If rogue sites are an issue, why not educate consumers to buy from legit sources instead? I understand piracy is bad, but there has to be a better way than this bill. I don’t know, maybe go after the person who uploaded the said content. No need to block websites from innocent people, just because someone uploaded something to the net.

    I got to give BSA props for having a comment system to let one voice their concerns. The MPAA and RIAA blogs don’t even have comments (hmmm, I wonder why?)

  2. Forgive me, Mr. Holleyman, for asserting that neither you nor the BS of A are interested in anything beyond the bottom line. What you consider to be piracy is technology beyond what you even understand. If you did have any idea of what the impact of your actions past and present were capable of destroying there would be no need for this formal (if not water-thin) commentary on your part.

  3. funny how it seems things like this that further lock down america and its progress seem very easy for america and the companies to accomplish, but fixing real problems like corruption and budgets within their own ranks is impossible.

    1. It’s easier to blame others than to hold themselves accountable. Once you blame others, you then have justification to “protect” others, and if others can’t do that, then you then have to regulate and restrict them “for their own good.” Consider it redacted that I make a rude remark about the irresponsible legislators and corporations behind this piece of crap.

  4. Putting more and more barriers to the sharing of information and knowledgement only limits the progress of technology… I’m talking about software patents and licenses, since I support open source software and open source ideas.

  5. it is in the interest of dear governments to arbitrarly apply restrictive laws. and the world’s citizens are sick and tired of it. so is piracy. but as you might know the internet has not been developed to be controlled. it should stay this way. sopa reads like having been developed by people who never used the internet, people locked in stone age.

  6. This is pure doublespeak and newspeak, where lack is white, yellow is purple, war is peace, and debt-based money is wealth.

    First, BSA comes out with absolutely joy, thunderous applause, and 1000% support of the legislation they have lobbied for and helped to freaking WRITE – http://www.bsa.org/country/News%20and%20Events/News%20Archives/en/2011/en-10262011-smithbill.aspx

    Then all heck breaks loose with the public outcry, protests, and complaints against the founding and member companies over this blantant attack on our rights, freedom, and liberty, helping the state to control us and our internet use.

    Now they back off, while still being 1000% behind the legislation. Read between the lines, people.

    The legislation does not need to be altered. It needs to be voted down, shredded, and burned, never to be thought of or spoken of again.

    If this legislation passes in ANY form, it will be a foot in the door they will incrementally amend in the following years and decades to eventually get everything they originally wanted… Complete control of our internet and us through it. Totalitarian China-like oppressive and tyrannical control.

  7. anyone who pirates should be suject to fines and or jail time

    im switching away from kapersky as my av its the princpal they dont wanna stop pirates from stealing there software making other customers pay thats a rip off

  8. Dear BSA
    We will immediately stop any plans to purchase software from your vendors.Due to your companies stance on SOPA
    SOPA is anti Innovation.

  9. I’m currently 45 and have been involved with computers since I was 10 and back then there was no internet but there was still software piracy going on and laws like this are for one purpose to control that is all politician especially progressives aka liberals aka socialists want total control of the wealth of the nation of our healthcare of our lives. I can only hope all tech companies and individuals will reject any laws that give government trash like this current clown running the united states into the ground a foot hold to control the internet. The internet is the only source of truly free speech left and we need to protect that more than anything.

  10. Any type of Internet censorship is a bad idea. It doesn’t matter how targeted. If you don’t like what someone is doing on the Internet, get their servers shut down. Building a Great Firewall of America is not the answer. It is 100% likely to be abused, no matter how you reword the bill for “a fine touch”.

    Copyright is a good idea, but it’s ultimately an expedient legal fiction, not a true right. Enforcement of copyright is not important enough to sacrifice our natural human rights.

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