The Business Software Alliance, the self-described voice of the world's software industry and its hardware partners on policy affairs, has done an about face on its initial support of the anti-piracy bill currently under consideration by the House of Representatives.
On Monday alliance CEO and president Robert Holleyman posted his misgivings about the bill, which would authorize the Justice Department to shut down rogue websites trafficking in stolen or counterfeit materials, such as pirated films and bogus pharmaceuticals.
Valid and important questions have been raised about the bill, wrote Holleyman, whose organization represents Apple, Microsoft and Dell, among other technology companies. It is intended to get at the worst of the worst offenders. As it now stands, however, it could sweep in more than just truly egregious actors.
He said the law required clearer definitions regarding who could be targeted and how. The BSA has long stood against filtering or monitoring the Internet, Holleyman added.
He said BSA was ready to work with the bill's sponsor, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), to improve its language.
Holleyman joins a slew of SOPA critics, including politicians from both sides of the aisle.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif) both came out against the bill after the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on it last week.
While the proposed law has enjoyed unwavering support from the entertainment industry, internet giants such as Google and Facebook have come out loudly against it, as have many free speech advocates.
Critics say that as written, SOPA could provide legal cover for censorship. This and other unintended consequence could have a chilling effect on the industry as a whole, they say, stifling innovation and growth.
BSA initially offered support of Smith's bill in a statement released October 26.