Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
New technologies and online capabilities have forced lawmakers to reconsider laws and alter their interpretations. The result has become conflict between law makers often not fully familiar with Internet issues and online communities who wish to remain relatively unregulated. SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, is one such recent area of conflict and heated debate.
What is SOPA?
SOPA is an anti-piracy bill (known as H.R 3261) that was proposed to the U.S. Congress on October 26, 2011. Since the bill was introduced, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011 to debate its contents.
The bill is designed to give the Department of Justice the power to fight online copyright infringement as well as counterfeit trafficking. It is also an expansion on the:
- Commercial Felony Streaming Act, 2011
- PROTECT IP Act, 2011
The core element of the bill is that it would grant the government a high level of power over the Internet that opponents claimed would have very little checks and balances.
Opponents suggest the bill is a major threat to every large commercial Website and social media platform. Creators, if the bill was to pass, would essentially have the ability to blacklist and block Websites if they believe are in violated of the proposed bill. There could also be new access and download restrictions for Internet users, and it could essentially completely change the Internet as it is known.
The argument for the passing of SOPA
Beyond the US government, the list of organizations that are in support of SOPA is extensive. Some of the most notable proponents include:
Directors Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild
- Motion Picture Association of America
- National Cable & Telecommunications Association
- Independent Film & Television Alliance
- National Association of Theatre Owners
- National Music Publishers' Association and American Federation of Musicians
Proponents in favor of the bill argue that jobs are threatened by Websites that benefit and profit from copyright infringement. They believe that these Website and IP-related thefts cost the economy approximately $100 billion annually.
The argument against the passing of SOPA
Opponents to SOPA contain some of the giants of the Internet, including:
They are concerned that that language of the bill does not understand how the Internet functions and disregards the principle of the Internet. They believe that the passing of the bill would have a negative impact on the global economy by hurting companies whose primary means of business is conducted online.
As the anti-SOPA campaign gained international media attention, opponents of the bill took a stand on January 18th, 2012, called Blackout Wednesday. High profile Websites, in protest of the bill shut down for the day, including: Wikipedia; Wordpress; TwitPic; and Google, which slowed down performance for the day.
In addition to the blackout, close to 20,000 anti-SOPA supported turned out for a rally in New York outside the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, two supporters of the bill.
SOPA is dropped
On January 20, 2012 in light of an increasing amount of pressure and opposition, lawmakers in the US decided to stop the anti-piracy bill. Lamar Smith, who initially introduced the bill, claimed that further action would be delayed until there was a wider consensus on the proposed legislation.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012Groups say ITU's transparency efforts aren't enough Organization has promised to give more information in advance about the agenda of an important December meeting, where some fear attempts will be made to restrict the Internet
Thursday, January 26, 2012CRTC names Leonard Katz interim chair Following the departure of Konrad von Finckenstein, Leonard Katz is appointed interim chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Tuesday, January 24, 2012SOPA and PIPA: What went wrong? Why a Web campaign derailed three powerful and well-funded trade groups that pushed hard for laws that could have cut U.S. access to suspect foreign Web sites
Sunday, January 22, 2012The great thing about SOPA is . . . OPINION The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act have enraged untold numbers of people online, with major Web sites going dark in protest. But there's at least one benefit for CIOs and IT managers
Friday, January 20, 2012Opposition rises in Congress to U.S. copyright bills Senators seem to be responding to public pressure as one bill is called dead and a vote on another is delayed. However, proponents aren't giving up
Wednesday, January 18, 2012Wikipedia, Craigslist black out against SOPA midnight The action by the websites is part of a larger protest against controversial legislation in the U.S.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012Tucows, Wikipedia among sites protesting U.S. laws Canadian software downloading site joins those objecting to proposed anti-piracy legislation that would block access in U.S. to infinging Web sites
Tuesday, December 20, 2011U.S. copyright hearing goes into 2012 So far, the committee has voted down about 20 amendments designed to address concerns by Web-based companies, Web security experts and digital rights groups
Friday, November 18, 2011FAQ: What the SOPA soap opera is all about Fourteen questions answered about the Stop Online Piracy Act and how it will affect Web site owners
Wednesday, November 16, 2011Supporters defend U.S. online piracy bill Sponsors of the controversial act say its needed to shut down Websites trafficking in billions of dollars in pirated material. Opponents, including Google, say legitimate sites might be punished