Bloomberg News

House Judiciary Chairman Says Google Obstructs Piracy Bill

November 22, 2011

(Adds Smith comment in fourth paragraph.)

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith accused Google Inc., owner of the biggest Internet search engine, of seeking to obstruct legislation aimed at curbing online piracy as his panel held a hearing on the bill.

The House measure and similar Senate legislation have pitted Internet companies against film and music companies that want the government to do more to fight intellectual-property theft. Google and Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social network, are among Web companies that say the bill will lead to Internet censorship and harm online innovation.

Smith cited a drug-advertising settlement between Mountain View, California-based Google and the Justice Department announced in August. The company agreed to pay $500 million to settle U.S. allegations that advertising for online Canadian pharmacies on its website allowed illegal imports of prescription drugs.

“Given Google’s record, their objection to authorizing a court to order a search engine to not steer consumers to foreign rogue websites is more easily understood,” Smith said at the hearing. “Unfortunately, the theft of America’s IP costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.”

Smith introduced the House version of the legislation last month. It would give the U.S. attorney general and copyright holders new powers to cut off financial support to non-U.S. websites accused of trafficking in goods spanning knockoff watches to fake pharmaceuticals to pirated movies.

The Stop Online Piracy Act would “undermine the legal, commercial and cultural architecture that has propelled the extraordinary growth of Internet commerce within the past decade,” Katherine Oyama, Google’s copyright counsel, said at the hearing.

“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 could threaten new investment, entrepreneurship and innovation,” Oyama said.

--Editors: Michael Shepard, Steve Walsh

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at eengleman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net


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