Copyright War Pits Silicon Valley Against Hollywood

Monday, 27 Jun 2011 11:57 AM

By James Hirsen

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There is a war going on between Northern California and Southern California over copyright law.

Hollywood companies want to step up government action in putting the brakes on Internet piracy and protecting intellectual property. Silicon valley firms, on the other hand, seek to protect innovation and new forms of technological creativity.

New proposed legislation, known as the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), would create a blacklist of “rogue sites” and would require that Internet service providers block access to those sites.

Hollywood studios and record companies want the legislation passed pronto, but Silicon Valley firms want the bill killed. So the top players in technology finance have signed a letter to Congress warning that the PROTECT IP legislation, if passed, would place “burdens” on Internet companies, and that the blacklist would “undermine Internet security.”

Venture capital providers have signed the letter along with Netscape founder Marc Andreessen and publisher Tim O'Reilly.

“We think PIPA will ultimately put American innovators and investors at a clear disadvantage in the global economy,” the Silicon Valley letter stated.

The Northern California contingent isn’t fond of the new kinds of lawsuits that PIPA would create for private citizens. The letter cautions Congress not to upset the “delicate balance” that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) created for Internet service providers.

The DMCA grants limited immunity from lawsuits against web companies if the offending material is removed in a timely fashion.

The letter ends with some clear instructions to Tinseltown.

Acknowledging that pirate websites will always be with us, the tech titans predict that “if rights holders [Hollywood] make it easy to get their works through innovative Internet models, they can and will have bright futures.”

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood:

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