The first is the PROTECT-IP bill, aka the Stop Online Piracy Act, which is reportedly moving quickly through Congress. SOPA, introduced last month by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), is aimed at shutting down any website that is found to present pirated content.
The legislation is being pushed by media firms and the Motion Picture Association of America,
which The Washington Post says estimate that Hollywood studios, record labels and publishing houses lose $135 billion in revenue each year from piracy and counterfeiting. Pharmaceuticals makers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also reportedly support the legislation. These entities also say that these losses are creating losses in jobs.
On the other side of the debate are some of the major Internet players, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and the Consumer Electronics Association, who quite rightly argue that such legislation would give government too much power to shut down websites.
“Inexplicably, and almost overnight, SOPA has morphed into a full-on assault against lawful U.S. Internet companies,” The Washington Post quotes Markham C. Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, a group representing web firms and public interest groups opposed to the law, as saying.
Indeed, were this law is already in effect, all of the major Internet sites – and many smaller ones – would already have been shut down, which would’ve likely tamped down growth of these companies and potentially had an adverse affect on job growth as well. Not only would this legislation throw a wet towel on Internet growth and the exchange of ideas, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates this bill would suck up $47 million tax dollars a year. Not good.
On a separate front, the USDA’s RUS program earlier this week announced $410.7 million in broadband loans for telcos to build, expand and improve broadband in 15 states.
That includes an effort to extend Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative’s existing FTTH network to serve rural communities in North Central Minnesota; a program that will allow
Polar Communications Mutual Aid Corp. of North Dakota to expand its FTTP broadband system throughout eighteen exchanges; a new FTTP broadband build in Indiana by Perry-Spencer Rural Telephone Cooperative Inc.; as well as a variety of other efforts around the country.
Fierce Telecom notes that this news comes just as RUS “and the Commerce Department tighten their grips on broadband stimulus funding awards – revoking $80 million in funding in Louisiana and ordering an investigation in North Florida….”