House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) welcomed today's statement from the White House urging Congress to act this year on much-needed legislation to combat online piracy.
Chairman Smith: "I welcome today's announcement that the White House will support legislation to combat online piracy that protects free speech, the Internet and America's intellectual property. That's precisely what the Stop Online Piracy Act does.
"Like the White House, I oppose the censorship of legal activity on the Internet. I respect the First Amendment and believe that any legislation passed by Congress must protect and defend our constitutional rights. But illegal and criminal activity is not protected by the First Amendment simply because it takes place online. For example, there is no First Amendment right to view, distribute or download child pornography over the Internet. Like child pornography, the theft of intellectual property is also illegal in the United States. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites that steal America's technology and products and distribute them illegally online. It is not censorship to enforce the law against foreign thieves.
"I agree with the White House that any legislation to combat online piracy should not harm the Internet or slow innovation. Yesterday, I announced that I will remove the DNS blocking provision from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine and study the issues surrounding this provision. The problem of online piracy discourages innovation because it steals the products and profits that rightly belong to American innovators. Lawful and legitimate companies should not have to compete with foreign thieves that steal their intellectual property. By safeguarding the financial incentives for American inventors, this bill encourages innovation and job creation.
"American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60 percent of U.S. exports. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while some of America's most profitable and productive industries are under attack. The White House has urged Congress to act this year. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that protects free speech, the Internet and America's intellectual property. The Stop Online Piracy Act does just that and I look forward to working with the White House and the Senate towards its enactment this year."
The Stop Online Piracy Act is supported by more than 120 organizations from around the country including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Sheriffs' Association, International Union of Police Associations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Songwriters Association and the National Center for Victims of Crime. More information about the Stop Online Piracy Act can be found at: http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/issues_RogueWebsites.html