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MPAA blasts 'dangerous' anti-SOPA blackouts as 'stunts'

Chief Hollywood lobbyist Chris Dodd, a former U.S. Senator, railed against tomorrow's planned Web blackouts/copyright-law protests.

A bipartisan coalition in Congress is trying to push through the Stop Online Piracy Act, but a growing number of Web sites--including Wikipedia--are registering strong protest the legislation. Now, the MPAA is calling those blackouts 'stunts' and saying they are 'dangerous.'
Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Anti-SOPA blackouts planned for tomorrow by sites like Wikipedia, Boing Boing, Reddit, and others are "stunts" that are "dangerous and troubling," Hollywood's chief lobbyist said.

In a statement issued today (PDF), MPAA chairman and CEO--and former U.S. Senator--Chris Dodd railed against the blackouts, calling them "an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on [the sites] for information and [who] use their services."

Dodd also said that the blackouts are "an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests." (See CNET's FAQ on SOPA.)

The Stop Online Piracy Act is a favorite of Hollywood, and is heavily supported by both the MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America. By contrast, Silicon Valley heavyweights like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others have come out against the legislation.

For its part, the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, justified its decision to take the free encyclopedia dark tomorrow by saying that if SOPA passes, the legislation "will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international Web sites inside the United States.

And while Wikipedia will be blacked out tomorrow, it will still be possible for those wanting to get information from the site to do so.

Reddit's editors wrote last week that "the freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience, and put an end to Reddit and many other sites you use every day. Internet experts, organizations, companies, entrepreneurs, legal experts, journalists, and individuals have repeatedly expressed how dangerous this bill is."

Protests against the bill--and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act--have paid some dividends so far. On Friday, SOPA's sponsor, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced that he was pulling one of the more controversial provisions of the legislation, one that would require Internet service providers to block overseas Web sites accused of piracy.

Subsequently, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that he'd been promised that the bill would not be taken up for debate until it was fixed. But today, Smith said that SOPA would be debated again next month.