Key House Judiciary Committee members questioned the motives of some opponents of legislation to fight piracy and counterfeiting on foreign websites on Wednesday, saying some of the critics are profiting from infringement.
"The obstinate opposition since the day [the bill was introduced] is really about the bottom line," Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., ranking member of the Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet Subcommittee, said during a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act. "Sites that specialize in stolen goods attract lots of users and lots of ads."
Watt and other committee members argue that some of the criticisms are overblown. They say opponents have failed to offer any concrete alternatives to fight the growth in offshore pirate websites offering TV shows, music, and other content as well as counterfeit medicines and other products.
Watt's camp was particularly critical of Google, which has joined with other leading Internet firms like Facebook and Twitter to oppose the bill. Some lawmakers and content owners say Google has not done nearly enough as a search engine and online ad provider to address the problem.
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Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, pointed to the recent $500 million forfeiture Google agreed to pay as part of a settlement with the Justice Department over allegations that the firm allowed ads to be placed on illegal online pharmacies.