The US government has been condemned by the channel for trying to push through new anti-piracy laws that would allow overseas websites to be shut down over copyright offences.
In recent weeks, pressure has been growing on the US House of Representatives to rethink the contents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): a piece of legislation it first announced last October.
If it is approved, SOPA would allow court injunctions to be served against overseas websites that unlawfully feature copyrighted material, and block access to them from inside the US.
The legislation would also give the US attorney general powers to have the offending sites removed from internet search engines.
Meanwhile, the US Senate has been pressing ahead with its plans to introduce a similar bill, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Both pieces of legislation have come under fire in recent weeks from software vendors and thousands of websites, over claims the bills could stifle innovation, business growth and the openness of the internet.
For example, online encyclopaedia Wikipedia staged a 24-hour blackout of its English-language site on 18 January in protest.
In a statement, published on a Wikipedia blog on 16 January, the site's founder Jimmy Wales described the legislation as "destructive".
"This is an extraordinary action for our community to take [but] we simply cannot ignore the fact that SOPA and PIPA endanger free speech both in the US and abroad, and set a frightening precedent of internet censorship for the world," he said.
The growing furore around SOPA led to the House of Representatives announcing on 20 January that work on the bill will be halted until there is "wider agreement on a solution".
On the same day, the US Senate also confirmed that plans to hold a procedural vote about PIPA on 24 January had been put on hold.
The UK channel has been urged to add its voice to the growing disquiet around both pieces of legislation, because of the impact they could have on online trade.
Gene Hoffman, chief executive of online billing software vendor Vindicia, said SOPA would turn the US into the "world's copyright police".
"Digital businesses thrive today because of their ability to go global from day one. The idea that new businesses might be cut down before they even get started, thanks to US legislation, is appalling," he added.
"Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter are all right to protest [against this] because they would never have made it past the start-up stage with such legislation."
Larry Walsh, chief executive of channel market watcher The 2112 Group, warned ChannelWeb that SOPA could be used as a "competitive weapon" by channel firms to curtail the online activities of rivals.
"True, original content [on the internet] is rare [because] virtually every domain has at least one piece of copyrighted or protected material on it," explained Walsh. "SOPA could be used to shut down entire domains or to stymie competition between rivals."
It is for this reason that Andrew Henderson (pictured), managing director of VAR Lanway, is opposed to SOPA.
"The channel will have a lot of work to do to ensure there is no ‘borrowed' content on any of its domains, social networks, blogs or other online marketing channels," he told ChannelWeb.
"SOPA is not just restricted to published content. It can also apply to content shared by users internally."
John Moffat, senior attorney at intellectual property legal firm Avidity IP, said channel businesses should find it easier to sidestep internal copyright issues.
"If the material is on an intranet site and cannot be seen by someone in the US, I cannot see it being a problem," said Moffat.
"Although, if it can be seen by employees in the US, for example, or if it features pricing in dollars - which would suggest the material is aimed at the US market - there might be an issue."
Vindicia's Hoffman also raised concerns over how the activities of the open-source software community will square with the SOPA regulations.
"[SOPA] threatens to demoralise the free and open-software community, which contributes billions of pounds to the economy," he said.
"We arrived at this point because of global goodwill, because of communities organising themselves around common goals and because consumers like to pay for good-quality services. SOPA threatens to undo all this."
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