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Businesses split in online privacy debate

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Jeremy Hobson: On Capitol Hill today, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing about online piracy. Lawmakers are considering a new bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would give the government more power to enforce copyrights online for things like movies and medicine.

But as Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports, not everyone in the business community is on board.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: The bill would require search engines like Google to cut off links to websites that sell pirated videos and fake Viagra. The Chamber of Commerce has gone all out for the bill. It’s hosted fly-ins to Washington so Hollywood bigwigs can lobby Congress personally.

Steven Tepp is an intellectual property attorney at the Chamber.

Steven Tepp: The idea is that you want to cut off these rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace.

The Chamber’s activism has made some of its members, like Hollywood studios and the pharmaceutical industry, very happy. But it’s alienated members like Google. They’re funding advocacy groups like Public Knowledge.

Gigi Sohn heads Public Knowledge.

Gigi Sohn: This will essentially force search engines to become the copyright police for the first time.

Sohn says Google would have to ferret out sites selling pirated products — a huge undertaking. Sohn played down reports that Google might quit the Chamber. Google won’t comment.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall-Genzer for Marketplace.

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