Boehner: Piracy bill lacks consensus

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) plans to continue his committee's markup of the bill next month.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), an opponent of the legislation, said last week that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the bill will not move unless it has a consensus.

SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act, are designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of movies, songs and TV shows with impunity. The legislation would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites deemed to be “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say piracy legislation is needed to stop the illegal downloading of movies, music and other copyrighted content, and argue that legislative action is long overdue. 

But consumer groups and Web companies warn the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech. They say the legislation would impose an unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content and could lead to legitimate websites getting shut down.

In a massive protest on Wednesday, thousands of websites including Google and Wikipedia posted messages opposing the legislation.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on Protect IP on Tuesday.