Republican Matt Doheny is calling on his likely November election foe, Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, to renounce his support for an anti-online piracy bill that President Obama's administration commented on.
While it's not exactly clear what the officials meant, it's pretty obvious that they're not big fans of the legislation that's out there right now, which ostensibly includes the bill Mr. Owens has sponsored.
In a statement from the White House in response to several online petitions, three Obama administration officials said that some proposed legislation might be harmful to the underlying architecture of the Internet while failing to address the problem of stolen content online.
Mr. Owens is a sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, while Mr. Doheny is a vocal critic. The statement from the White House doesn't specifically call out SOPA, and this story from Politico details the "thin line" that the blog post is walking.
Mr. Doheny wasn't the only person to pounce on the blog post and interpret it as a pooh-pooh of the SOPA bill. The Huffington Post, for example, had a big banner headline talking about a "net win."
“Bill Owens supported this bill at its very worst, when it applied to both foreign and domestic sites and allowed private companies broad powers to cut off funding to sites without a court order,” Mr. Doheny said in a news release from his campaign team. “Backlash from fellow legislators and the tech community prompted some changes, but the bill remains fatally flawed. Even President Obama gets this. Why doesn't Bill Owens?”
In a nutshell, the Stop Online Piracy Act would block access to international sites that are accused of either participating in or not doing enough to stop piracy — think of fake online drug stores and of places where you can get bootleg versions of Hollywood movies. The legislation has been criticized for being overly broad, posing a risk to honest sites that don't know about the illegal content or small startups that could be unfairly accused by large companies trying to quash burgeoning competition.
Owens spokesman Sean Magers said the following in an email: "Congressman Owens stands by his position that we need to protect intellectual property in order to save American businesses and jobs. He is always open to changes in the legislation that makes it better."