Facing an online protest that appears to have gone viral, supporters of legislation that would crack down on piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites are trying to fight back by launching a new advertising campaign.
Creative America, a coalition of movie studios, television networks and entertainment industry unions, launched a new campaign Wednesday in support of the Senate's Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the House. The move came on the same day that thousands of websites went dark to protest both bills, which critics say will stifle innovation and free speech on the Internet.
Creative America has launched banner ads on some websites and a huge billboard in New York's Time Square advising Internet users to read a book, listen to music or go to a movie during the 24-hour blackout of sites like Wikipedia, Craigslist and Reddit. The coalition also is launching television, radio and print ads in select markets in support of the two anti-piracy bills.
"With the opponents of the bill trafficking in misinformation, fear tactics and public relations stunts like blacking out their websites--in essence censoring the Internet themselves--we thought it more important than ever to get the message out that these bills are reasoned, narrow, effective and necessary measures to combat foreign rogue sites, which are preying on American consumers and costing American jobs," Creative America Executive Director Mike Nugent said in a statement.
The campaign comes at a critical time as opponents appear to be making headway in Congress. The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on whether to allow debate to begin on Protect IP, while the House Judiciary Committee said this week it will resume its markup of SOPA next month.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who has helped lead opposition to SOPA in the Judiciary Committee along with Reps Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Jared Polis, D-Colo., and others, told Tech Daily Dose Wednesday that she will continue to try make improvements to the bill when work resumes and has 50 amendments ready to go.
While House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has pledged to remove a controversial website blocking provision from the bill, Polis said Wednesday that it's unclear what other changes could be made. He urged critics to keep the pressure on lawmakers in both the House and Senate to oppose the legislation.
"We will have to react to how these bills will be changed. In the House, we don't know what the chairman has in store for the markup or in the Senate how [that] bill will be brought to the floor or what the manager's amendment will contain," Polis said in remarks at the annual State of the Net conference. "Public interest has to be ongoing. Not just a flash in the night."
Smith told Tech Daily Dose Wednesday that he does not know if he will make additional changes to the bill before next month's markup.