Major software group backs off support for controversial online piracy bill

A prominent software industry group backed by Apple and Microsoft, among others, appears to be to backpedaling from its support of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

The Business Software Alliance initially hailed the introduction of SOPA last month by House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), but BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman outlined a number of concerns about the legislation in a blog post published Monday.


"Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors," Holleyman said.

"To fix this problem, definitions of who can be the subject of legal actions and what remedies are imposed must be tightened and narrowed. Due process, free speech, and privacy are rights cannot be compromised."

The legislation would allow the government and copyright holders to obtain court orders forcing search engines, social networks and other Web firms to delete links to sites deemed dedicated to copyright infringement.

The bill is strongly supported by the entertainment industry and business lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but has drawn fierce opposition from Web companies like Google, Facebook and Tumblr.

The opposition, which includes groups on both the right and left, has also cited fears of censorship and government overreach on the Web if the legislation becomes law. A companion bill, the PROTECT IP Act, is expected to come up for debate in the Senate in the near future.

Holleyman also noted concerns from the security community about unintended consequences from the legislation that could undermine network security.

"BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the Internet. All of these concerns should be duly considered and addressed," Holleyman said, adding that the group is ready to work with Smith to resolve the concerns.

SOPA was slated for markup in the coming weeks, but the bill could be in for major changes in light of the backlash. House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told Hillicon on Friday that he expects to offer his own bipartisan legislation, and suggested several committees could take up the issue.