SOPA Gets Watered Down, But Not Enough for Critics

SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) seems to be getting some of the criticism that has fallen on his "rogue websites" bill. The Texas Congressmen has introduced several amendments to the bill that soften some of the more draconian measures it contained, and offers a clarification that web sites using U.S. domains wouldn't be subject to the law. Still, opponents of SOPA see these steps as not enough, and with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) offering an alternative it's still a hard sell to anyone that cares about online rights. A hearing on SOPA is scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. That committee is chaired by Smith.

Under Smith's amended bill, a judge would now have to order ad networks to stop doing business with a site deemed "dedicated" to various infringing activities. The original bill gave power directly to rights holders, who could make those demands on an ad network or payment processor. The amendment still gives legal immunity to financial institutions and ad networks that choose cooperate and boycott "rogue" sites.

"That is pretty big," Sherwin Siy, a staff attorney with digital-rights group Public Knowledge tells Ars Technica.

Lamar’s amendments also clarify that sites ending in .com, .org, and .net are not covered by the bill. Only foreign sites fall under SOPA’s wrath. Smith's amendment also still gives the Justice Department the power to demand that Internet Service Providers block their customers from visiting infringing sites, but it won't require ISPs to alter DNS records. While they wouldn't be required to use that tactic, they would be forced into using some sort of method to keep users from visiting sites deemed as "rogue sites." Unfortunately the bill still doesn't define just what a rogue site is.

Source: Ars Technica

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