SOPA hearing: Bi-partisan political FAIL

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - December 16, 2011.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) hearing by the House Judiciary Committee did not go well for those who fear it gives censorship power to big businesses. Many lawmakers demonstrated their ignorance of the Internet, while rejecting calls for expert assistance. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers follow the money.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Vader conducts Christmas Choir Flash Mob...

    Jaikumar Vijayan reports:

At a sometimes contentious hearing held Thursday to mark up...SOPA, several lawmakers expressed concern over the speed with which the proposed legislation is being pushed through. ... And proposal after proposal to amend the bill...were shot down.


SOPA...has been at the center of a raging controversy since it was introduced. ... [It] would let the government ask ISPs to use DNS blocking, filtering and other...methods to cut off access to foreign infringing websites. ... It would also let the government order search engine companies such as Google to disable search engine results.   

    Cecilia Kang adds:

The circus atmosphere of the hearing...reflected the high-stakes, emotional nature of the debate. ... The measure has been praised by Hollywood titans, pharmaceutical giants and record labels. ... But it has drawn the ire of Silicon Valley types, including founding Internet engineers such as Vint Cerf.


[R]epresentatives agreed to revisions to better protect U.S. Web sites if they inadvertently host copyrighted [material]. ... Google co-founder Sergey Brin earlier Thursday compared SOPA to censorship in China and Iran. ... “Nonsense!” said Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.).   

Alexandra Petri calls it "terrifying to watch":

It’s exactly as we feared. For every person who appears to have some grip on the issue, there were three or four yelling at him. ... [T]his is like a group of well-intentioned amateurs getting together to perform heart surgery.


SOPA...creates a horrifyingly large censorship authority for the Internet. ... There are dozens of reasons this is wrong. ... [T]he Founders knew it is unwise to give people more powers than you would like them to use.   

And Timothy B. Lee expresses concern:

"I cannot fathom why we are moving so quickly,"...said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)...urg[ing] the committee to take more time to address...objections. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) agreed. ... "We haven't done our due diligence.".


None of the other groups who have expressed concerns—technologists, high-tech investors, legal scholars—have had an opportunity to address the committee.   

Meanwhile, Ernesto notes the irony of 'pirates' policing piracy:

[W]e’ve discovered BitTorrent pirates at nearly every major in the US, including Sony...Fox...and NBC Universal.


Armed with the IP-ranges of major Hollywood studios [and], it didn’t take us long before we found BitTorrent ‘pirates’. ... Yes, these are the same companies who want to disconnect people from the Internet [for] sharing copyrighted material.   

   And Finally...
Darth Vader conducts Christmas Choir Flash Mob

[hat tip: Susan Beebe via Paul McNamara]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon