Speaking yesterday morning at the Qualcomm CES keynote, Gary Shapiro blasted SOPA and its backers and supporters for their efforts to stifle both free speech and innovation. Shapiro is president of the Consumer Electronics Association, the organization responsible for CES.
Shapiro pulled no punches in his criticism of the act and its backers. He called SOPA a “threat to innovation,” that was supported primarily by “politicians who are proudly unfamiliar with how the internet works, but who are well familiar with favors from well-heeled copyright extremists.” These extremists, he says, “seek to inhibit free thought and speech.” Conversely, Shapiro praised the OPEN act (PDF), which has been proposed as an alternative to SOPA/PIPA.
This is not the first time that Shapiro has been in the news for his opposition to SOPA. Just last week he offered similarly sharp criticism of the bill in an interview with VentureBeat. He said that SOPA is a distraction from what Congress should really be working on. He lamented that “in Washington, the urgent replaces the important,” and noted that opponents of SOPA “are being outspent 10 to 1 by the copyright extremists.” He went on to say that “[t]here are two types of members of Congress: those who understand the internet and those who will vote for SOPA because they have made commitments to the copyright extremists.”
Shapiro’s comments at CES came on the same day as an announcement by Reddit that they would be blacking out the site for 12 hours on Wednesday, January 18th to show opposition to the SOPA. The popular link sharing site surpassed 2 billion pageviews in the month of December alone.[Source: DailyTech; International Business Times]