BUSINESS

Silicon Valley’s finest unsure on new act

TAGs: ebay, Facebook, Google, silicon valley, technology, Twitter, Zynga

Silicon ValleySome of the world’s largest online technology firms have attacked a new act that aims to clamp down on piracy. The Stop Online Piracy Act was branded “draconian” in a letter sent to congress on behalf of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, eBay, Mozilla, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn. It’s thought that Silicon Valley’s top brass claims it “pose[s] a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity”.

The sites added: “We support the bills’ stated goals – providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” but their concerns over certain aspects are enough for them to raise alarm.

A main worry is the legislation undermining what have become known as “safe harbour” protections granted to ISPs. It means firms offering blogs and other services don’t live in fear of copyright action being taken by rights holders. Under the new act they’d have no protection against this.

When you talk about stifling innovation, it’s hard not to bring up patent trolls that blight any industry they like the look of. It can stunt innovation and goes to explain why a number of the companies in Silicon Valley are building up a “nuclear arsenal” of patents to fight lawsuits. The online gaming industry has seen off a number of these trolls over the years. Righthaven, the latest company to look at gaming, has been declared bankrupt with the bailiffs already moving in. Don’t even get us started on Scott Lewis.

Debates over the best way to tackle online piracy have been raging on ever since Napster upset the balance in the late 90s and doesn’t look like ending as soon as those in the entertainment industry had hoped. It won’t be long until they start up the age-old argument about it not being ok to steal CDs from your local record store and vice versa. Britain’s Digital Economy Act is a similar bill and has failed to make any widespread progress in the battle against piracy and it remains to be seen whether the US version has better luck – if it ever sees the light of day.

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