Katherine Oyama

Opening Statement to the HOR Judiciary Committee Hearing on H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act

delivered 16 November 2011, Washington, D.C.

Audio mp3 of Opening Statement

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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Conyers, and members of the committee:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to testify today, not just on behalf of Google, but also on behalf of the Consumer Electronics Association, CCIA, Net Coalition, TechNet, TechAmerica -- which together represent thousands of companies.

Google takes the problem of online piracy and counterfeiting very seriously. We devote our best engineering talent and tens of millions of dollars every year to fight it. In the last year alone, we have spent more than 60 million dollars to weed out bad actors from our ad services. We have shut down nearly a 150,000 AdWords accounts, mostly based on our own detection efforts. And so far this year we've processed five million DMCA take-down requests, targeting nearly five million items.

We are as motivated as anyone to get this right, but the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] is not the right approach. SOPA would undermine the legal, commercial, and cultural architecture that has propelled the extraordinary growth of Internet commerce over the past decade, a sector that has grown to two trillion dollars in annual U.S. GDP -- including 300 billion from online advertising.

Virtually every major Internet company -- from Twitter to Facebook, Yahoo and E-Bay, as well as a diverse array of other groups -- from venture capitalists to librarians to musicians -- have [sic] expressed serious concerns about this bill.

Unfortunately, this legislation is over-broad.

It undermines the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has, for more than a decade, struck a balance. The DMCA provides copyright owners with immediate recourse when they discover infringement online, while also giving service providers the certainty that they need to invest in the products on which millions of Americans rely. The bill sweeps in innocent websites that have violated no law. It imposes harsh and arbitrary sanctions without due process.

The following example shows how the bill, as currently written, would work: Imagine a website -- let’s call it Dave’s Online Emporium -- which enables small businesses to sell clothing and accessories. More than 99% of the sellers on Dave's Emporium are entirely legitimate; but unbeknownst to Dave, one seller has started selling counterfeit bags and T-shirts that -- that parody a copyrighted design. Dave's Emporium takes great care to comply with copyright laws, including takedown procedures, including infringement provisions of the DMCA. But under the Stop Online Piracy Act, the entire site could be deemed (quote) “dedicated to theft” based on the violations of this single seller and the whole business effectively shut down.

Just about any private party -- a corporation, a copyright troll, someone with an axe to grind -- could send a notice to payment and advertising companies to terminate services to the site, without first involving law enforcement or triggering any judicial process. The complaining party has no duty to contact Dave's Emporium directly to resolve the issue before going straight to ads and payment services to terminate his service. If the Emporium fails to respond with a counternotice within 5 days, Dave's site could effectively be put out of business. Facing these potential risks, Dave might think twice about establishing his online emporium in the first place.

Countless websites of all kinds -- commercial, social, personal -- could be shuttered or put out of business based on allegations that may or may not be valid. And the resulting cloud of legal uncertainty would threaten new investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation. In a new study of venture capitalists released today, more than 80 percent said that the "safe harbor" provisions of digital copyright laws are essential. Weakening those safe harbor provisions would have a -- a recession-like impact on new investment.

And at the same time, this proposed law imposes new and unclear obligations on Internet service providers to take (quote) “technically feasible and reasonable measures” to block access to sites, to remove them from search results, turning these providers into de-facto web censors.

This won’t work.

As long as there is money to be made pushing pirated and counterfeit products, tech-savvy criminals around the world will find ways to sell these products online. And ordering ISPs and search engines to “disappear” web sites from the Internet will not change this fundamental reality.

We urge you instead to target the problem at the source: Shut down illegal foreign sites by cutting off their revenue.

We support legislation that builds on the DMCA. Our proposal would empower the Justice Department to target foreign sites that violate current law. And a court could then order the advertisers and payment services, in which our [Google's] services would be included, to cut off ads and payments to those sites.

Google has been working with the Committee on such a solution for over six months and we will continue to do so. When all is said and done, we must address online piracy effectively in ways that continue to allow the Internet to drive this economy and this country forward.

Thank you.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Audio Source: http://judiciary.house.gov/

Copyright Status: Text = Uncertain. Audio = Public domain.
































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