The bill ostensibly aims to help enforce copyright online, and is backed by Hollywood studios and music labels. But critics say its provisions would violate due process, censor free speech, and tamper with the technical underpinnings of the Internet.
After weeks of protests against the bill by Internet entrepreneurs and Web companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, the House committee spent more than three hours debating more than 50 different amendments in hopes of moving SOPA along for a House vote.
“I don’t want young people excited about the Internet … to be denied,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) today.
“Maybe we should ask some actual nerds how this thing is going to work,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
SOPA “modernizes our criminal and civil statutes to meet new IP enforcement challenges” and provides law enforcement agencies the “tools to protect American intellectual property from counterfeiting and piracy,” according to the Committee on the Judiciary website.
The amendments to SOPA addressed compliance costs for universities and small Web startups, the definition of an Internet Protocol or IP address, and the responsibility of Internet service providers. (For a detailed explanation of some of the bigger amendments, visit Techdirt.)
“Makes sense. They better not pass this, otherwise there'll be hell,” commented stopthelegos. “This is the internet! This is where we meet new people, discuss our ideas, and waste our time! If they take our internet, they're taking our freedom, and I'm not letting that happen! The internet doesn't belong to any one country, or any one man for that matter!”
Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian made a similar argument in a YouTube video. Ohanian believes that if SOPA existed in 2005, he would have never have started the social news site.
“It’s not just Reddit,” Ohanian says in the video, “It’s every single other social media site out there would be threatened by this bill.
The committee took a brief recess at about 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time and will reconvene at about 2:30 p.m. Stay with the Daily Dot for updates. KeepTheWebOpen.com is streaming a live video feed of the meeting.