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Ben Huh and Rick Cotton debate SOPA on the NewsHour

It took an email from my mom in Ohio to realize just how big the controversy over the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act had become. Last night, she emailed to tell me that Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh was on The NewsHour debating an executive from NBC over the measure.

My mom, a former journalist, basically told me to get up to speed on the issue. (In fact, while writing this piece, I got another note saying: “Keep on top of SOPA and PIPA.”)

I missed the piece on PBS, but just found it online today and embedded it below.

The first thing that struck me about the debate was the attire of the two men: Huh, dressed in his typical casual Seattle style, and NBC Universal’s Rick Cotton appearing in a dark suit.

Obviously, they were of two very different worlds.

Huh made the case that the bills are vague and could be easily abused. But Cotton countered that there’s “no lack of clarity” in how the bills are written, targeting foreign Web sites engaged in illegal activity.

But Huh said that as the bills are written Cheezburger, which operates foreign domains, could be a potential target. “This is a very bad bill because it does not understand how the Internet works,” said Huh, adding that the bill could jeopardize the company’s jobs. Later, he said it is up to the citizenry to protect “the crown jewel of civilization” that is the Internet, rather than follow the path of those who would want to “lobotomize” it.

Watch A World Without Wikipedia: For SOPA, Websites Threaten a Midnight Blackout on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

[Hat tip to Seattle journalist Glenn Fleishman @glennf]

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