House piracy bill markup to continue Wednesday

The House Judiciary Committee plans to resume its markup of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act on Wednesday.

A notice went out to staff late Friday to prepare to resume the markup on Wednesday, provided the House is still in session. There had been talk of the session being postponed until the new year.

The legislation would empower the government and copyright holders to seek a court order forcing Web firms and search engines to delete links to foreign websites deemed dedicated to copyright infringement. The content community is strongly behind SOPA and argues dramatic changes are needed to online copyright enforcement to prevent the loss of jobs and revenue.

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Critics argue SOPA would impose an undue burden on tech firms, jeopardize free speech and undermine the security of the Internet. Opponents on the committee offered more than 50 amendments to ameliorate the bill, half of which were discussed during a lengthy markup session on Thursday and Friday. The opposition, which includes Reps. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzFormer chairman appears at House Oversight contempt debate Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties House Dems seek to make officials feel the pain MORE (R-Utah), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is expected to continue to debate every amendment in hopes of slowing the bill's progress.

The bill's sponsors including chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) argue concerns about free speech are overblown since the bill doesn't authorize any action without a court's approval. They have also suggested that opponents, particularly Google, have their own self-interest at heart when leveling accusations that the bill will break the Internet as it currently stands.

There was considerable disagreement on the legislation's potential unintended consequences, with opponents suggesting supporters lack the technical expertise to adequately evaluate the bill's impact. Smith indicated Friday he was amenable to a suggestion from Chaffetz that the Committee hear from cybersecurity experts within the government on the bill's potential impact on the domain name system, but it was unclear whether that would take place before the scheduled markup on Wednesday.

The public's growing awareness of SOPA has prompted a backlash online and protests from several major Web firms. Observers believe any delay favors the opposition since supporters have had several years' head-start in building support. The bill is ultimate likely to pass the Judiciary Committee by a two-to-one margin when it comes up for a vote, sending it to House floor where its fate will be decided.