January 19, 2912
Congressional support for a pair of anti-piracy bills is weakening after Wednesday’s historic online protest in which thousands of websites went dark for 24 hours. Hollywood film studios, music publishers and major broadcasters support the anti-piracy legislation, saying it aims to stop the piracy of copyrighted material over the internet on websites based outside the United States. "We’re talking about sites that are operated and dedicated to piracy and that are really preventing individual creators across the country from having an economic livelihood from their creative pursuits," says Sandra Aistars, executive director of the Copyright Alliance, whose members include the Motion Picture Association of America, NBCUniversal, Time Warner, Viacom, ASCAP and BMI. But critics say the bills could profoundly change the internet by stifling innovation and investment, hallmarks of the free, open internet. "Wikipedia could be defined as a search engine under these [bills]," says Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. "That would mean that it would be illegal for Wikipedia to link to a site, even if we’re writing an encyclopedia article explaining to the public what is The Pirate Bay, what is going on here, and we want to send you there so you can go and take a look for yourself. That would become illegal. This is outrageous, and it’s just not acceptable under the First Amendment." [Original includes rush transcript]
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