Local members of Congress say they are against the Stop Online Piracy Act, which prompted web protests Wednesday on sites like Wikipedia and Google.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th, said through a prepared statement that he will not support SOPA, but he believes the current controversy and publicity could spark a useful dialogue that could lead to a solution to the online piracy problem.
U.S. Rep. Tim Holden -- a Democrat whose 17th district will include Easton and much of the rest of Northampton County when redistricting takes effect, said Wednesday he had changed his mind on SOPA and is now opposed to it. He said he planned to withdraw his sponsorship of the bill.
Sites like Wikipedia went dark out of fears that the law "could fatally damage the free and open Internet."
Said Dent: “Most Americans agree online piracy is a serious matter and steps must be taken to prevent the illegal distribution of intellectual property. While intellectual property is currently protected on domestic websites by federal law, online piracy has found a safe haven on foreign sites that exploit American artists, innovators and entrepreneurs.
“However, I am concerned SOPA – as introduced - is not the proper approach to addressing this growing problem. Instead, Congress must work to fight online piracy in a manner that guarantees individual rights are respected and promoted, and innovation is not hindered.
“While I am not prepared to support SOPA at this time, I believe the greater exposure it has recently received in the public and in Washington will help generate a necessary dialogue about the need to combat the illegal activity of online piracy.”
In a statement posted on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, Holden said:
"Based on my background as a sheriff, the Stop Online Piracy Act, commonly referred to as SOPA, was brought to me as a law enforcement bill. At its core, the bill's intent to eliminate theft by foreign websites protects the intellectual property of American manufacturers of all spheres.
"However, the possible unintended consequences, such as stifling innovation and limiting free speech on the Internet, have come to the forefront of debate. An open Internet requires that we find a better approach that is acceptable to all sides."