On Oct. 26 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill seeking to crack down on the online piracy of music, movies and other intellectual property.
While H.R. 3261 is similar to S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, which was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in May, the two bills are not an exact match. The Stop Online Piracy Act is similar to S. 968 in that it also gives the attorney general new tools to block foreign-based websites from Internet users in the United States. In addition, Smith's bill also allows intellectual property owners to take action against websites, which is also similar to Leahy's measure. However, one difference in Smith's bill is that the unauthorized streaming of certain copyrighted content would be considered a felony punishable by a fine and up to 5 years in prison.
Following the introduction of the Protect IP Act, the tech industry has protested the bill, leading to its stalled progress within the Senate, and despite the bipartisan support for H.R. 3261, the tech industry has also come out against it, with complaints including that it is much broader and much more punitive than S. 968.
In April The Recording Academy lobbied in support of legislation that would target unlawful online piracy of intellectual property, specifically music, and shortly afterward the PROTECT IP Act was introduced. Following the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act, Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow released the following statement:
"Music creators see introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act as welcome news. At a time of high unemployment and slow economic growth, the IP sector should be a driving force for economic recovery. But to fulfill its potential, creators of IP must be protected from foreign companies that seek to rob America's creative community through rogue websites. The Recording Academy thanks Representatives Lamar Smith, John Conyers, Bob Goodlatte, and Howard Berman for sponsoring this important legislation."
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act on Nov. 16.