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SAG, AFTRA Back Anti-Piracy Bill

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Several entertainment industry unions—including the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—have joined together to express support for a new anti-piracy bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. The legislation would broaden the Justice Department's power to block access to so-called "rogue" websites that distribute copyright-violating material. It was introduced by Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas; John Conyers, D-Mich.; Bob Goodlatte, R-Va.; and Howard Berman, D-Calif.

"Without proactive measures like the Stop Online Piracy Act, rogues sites will continue to siphon away wages and benefits from members of the creative community, greatly compromising our industry's ability to foster creativity, provide opportunities, and ensure good jobs," the unions said in a written statement.

The Stop Online Piracy Act is considered a companion bill to the PROTECT IP Act, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year with bipartisan support but immediately had a legislative hold placed on it by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. PROTECT IP has enjoyed the backing of the entertainment industry, but it has also been criticized by organizations such as Google, the American Library Association, and Human Rights Watch. Public advocacy groups spoke out yesterday to express their displeasure with the similar Stop Online Piracy Act.

"This is an omnibus grab bag of corporate goodies that will hurt consumers, stifle innovation, foment censorship, and change the Internet as we know it for the worse," David Segal, executive director of the progressive activist organization Demand Progress, said in a written statement. "It's so over-the-top that we're not sure if we should be laughing or crying."

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