NY Times endorses anti-piracy alternative

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Those bills would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that Internet providers block access to foreign pirate sites. Search engines would have to delete links, and ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

But critics of the legislation argue the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech.

Congressional leaders were forced to pull PIPA and SOPA after thousands of websites staged a massive protest earlier this month, sparking an explosion of voter anger over the issue.

The alternative OPEN Act would authorize the U.S. International Trade Commission, rather than the Justice Department, to go after the foreign pirate sites. The bill focuses on a “follow the money” approach by aiming to cut off revenue to the websites instead of requiring other sites to delete links or block the sites.

The New York Times editors argued that by allowing private copyright holders to sue pirate sites, SOPA and PIPA "would have opened a door for abuse." They also praised the OPEN Act for not forcing Internet providers to block sites through a process "too much like hacking, which worried safety experts."

"The new bill may not be perfect; some Web sites that aid or abet pirates may avoid punishment," the editors wrote. "But it gives copyright holders powerful new tools to protect themselves. And it goes a long way toward addressing the concerns of Internet companies, protecting legitimate expression on the Web from overzealous content owners. The two sides need to move beyond their resentments and push for its passage."

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the sponsor of SOPA, warned the OPEN Act "does not do enough to combat online piracy, and may make the problem worse," when Issa introduced it earlier this month.