It's little surprise that Web-based companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter oppose SOPA, which is designed to make allegedly piratical Web sites virtually disappear from the Internet. They, and many civil liberties and human rights groups, worry that SOPA could jeopardize legitimate Web sites too.
But Redmond's skepticism is notable because unlike the Web companies, Microsoft earns nearly all of its revenue by licensing software--which can, of course, be pirated--and loses money on Bing and its online services division. What's even more telling is that Microsoft had enthusiastically endorsed a narrower version of the copyright bill, called Protect IP, earlier this year.
That concern about SOPA, which is heading toward a committee vote in the House of Representatives next month, led to a rare and embarrassing about-face on the part of the Business Software Alliance, a trade association that represents Microsoft's interests in Washington, D.C. (BSA, along with the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, is among the seven members of the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Among BSA's projects is a pro-copyright Web site for kids featuring Garrett, the copyright-crusading ferret that Wired dubbed one of the "lamest technology mascots ever.")