Last updated: January 18, 2012 - 8:30am
There’s a civil war brewing in California: Tech-aligned members of Congress from the North are staring down their Hollywood-loving counterparts in the South. At the heart of the schism are two bills that aim to crack down on online pirating of movies and music — the Stop Online Piracy Act pending in a House committee and the PROTECT IP Act up for a vote in the Senate next week.
Hollywood-aligned lawmakers insist that the bills are needed to protect jobs and make sure artists and writers keep getting paid. But Silicon Valley and its backers in Congress counter that the effort would kill innovation and trample free speech. The dividing line is so clear that the fight might as well be between two states — with lawmakers from the South representing one California that is home to creative types who make content — such as movies, television shows and music — and lawmakers from the North fighting for another California that is home to Silicon Valley technologists who make it possible for the globe to consume that creative content online. The geographic fight is a good reminder that local politics can still trump party loyalties.