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SOPA: Does bill encourage Internet censorship?

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) gives copyright owners new powers. Google Chairman Schmidt calls SOPA draconian.

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt waits to speak prior to an address at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., Nov. 15, 2011. Mr. Schmidt criticized the SOPA copyright bill, saying it would lead to Internet censorship.

Charles Krupa/AP

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Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt blasted proposed legislation to tighten online copyright regulation on Tuesday, saying the bills would lead to censorship of the Internet.

Intended to combat the trade in pirated movies and music, the two bills would give copyright holders and law enforcement officials added powers to cut off websites and require search engines, payment collectors and others to block access. The legislation Schmidt opposed is called the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House.

``The solutions are draconian,'' Schmidt said during an appearance at the MIT Sloan School of Management. ``There's a bill that would require (Internet service providers) to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.''

Schmidt said content owners like Hollywood studios have a legitimate problem, since increasing trading of pirated movies threatens their revenue.

``Their business models are threatened by theft,'' Schmidt said. ``We don't endorse it. Please don't do it. If you're doing it, stop. I hope that's very clear.''

Instead, Schmidt recommended regulations based on tracing payments spent at websites offering illegal materials.

The remarks followed a letter to lawmakers opposing the PROTECT IP and SOPA bills from a group of Internet companies including Google, AOL Inc, eBay Inc, Facebook, Yahoo Inc and Twitter.

``We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity,'' the companies wrote.

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