In the face of strong criticism, the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP act have been shelved for the time being. But the movie, music, television and video game industries continue to argue that they offer much needed protection against pirates outside the reach of American law enforcement. Steve Tepp of the business lobbying group the US Chamber of Commerce tells Bob that despite criticism, these bills are narrowly targeted and would protect copyright holders against pirates.
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Steve Tepp is chief intellectual property counsel for the business lobbying group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. We spoke to him Wednesday of this week, before the House and Senate tabled their bills. Tepp told us that critics are misinterpreting or willfully ignoring how carefully the legislation was written to avoid penalizing the innocent.
The legislation is, in fact, very narrowly targeted. The bill requires - for example, the Senate bill, the Protect IP Act, that the website in question be dedicated to infringing activities, that its primary design and primary use is counterfeiting or piracy. That's not your everyday website. That's not a sledgehammer. That's very carefully targeted.
I am not as familiar with the provisions of the law, as you are, clearly. But what I am familiar with though is the reaction to SOPA and Protect IP. It's created quite a lot of anxiety in the industry, and the Googles of the world, the Wikipedias of the world, the Facebooks are very upset about this. And if there's nothing for them to fear, why is everybody so scared?
Well, there's certainly a lot of misinformation flying around on the Internet. Everyone who [LAUGHS] spends time on the Internet knows that you can't trust everything you read.
Steve, I'm sorry, I got to stop you there. Google does not get its information on SOPA by googling it. They've got more lawyers than I have socks.
And they have examined this legislation very carefully, and they consider it a threat. What are they seeing as threatening that you think is benign or, better than benign, necessary?
Well, the one provision that got all these folks excited was the requirement that after the Attorney General brings a case and after a Federal court finds that a site is dedicated to this criminal activity, that the site not be reachable from the United States, that the Internet companies would block access to that site. And that's what a lot of folks said, oh, this is — this is a problem for the Internet, it's gonna break the Internet.
Now, that seemed to me to be quite overblown but, in any event, in the spirit of compromise, sponsors of both the Senate bill and the House bill have said, we're gonna roll that back. And yet, folks are moving the goalpost and saying, nope, still not good enough. So I don't know what the concern is. To me if I get what I ask for, I stop complaining.
[LAUGHS] All right now, you are not a naif, and you can see that the political tide has turned. SOPA does not look like it's long for this world, at least in the current form. What do you think happens next, and how would you go about protecting intellectual property without killing the goose that lays the golden - zeros and ones?
[LAUGHS] Well look, frankly where we are now is we have a narrow carefully tailored piece of legislation. It addresses many of the concerns that are already out there.
But at the end of the day, we know that protecting American consumers and protecting American jobs from foreign criminals is in the best interest of this country. We know that members of Congress are gonna see that. And we are going to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that these criminals can't continue to get away scott free.
Even among those who say that they have problems with the legislation as drawn, there is universal agreement that it is clearly in the interest of the United States to stop foreign criminals from exploiting the American people.
All right, Steve. Thank you very much.
Steve Tepp is the chief intellectual property counsel for the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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