SOPA? So What?
If you live in the United States – and especially if you do not – you should be interested in a piece of legislation that is currently making the rounds in the US Congress. The legislation is called SOPA or PIPA (no, not Middleton). This legislation is being fiercely contested with the movie and music industries backing the legislation while the tech industry fights the good fight against it. No points for guessing which side I’m on.
In a nut shell, SOPA will give the US Attorney General and plaintiffs (such as the RIAA and MPAA) new powers to fight foreign sites that engage, enable or facilitate copyright infringement. They will fight these sites using a four pronged approach:
1) Require search engines to delete the site from all search results.
2) Require ad networks to stop display ads on or for the site.
3) Require payment processors (eg Paypal) to prevent any transactions between US customers and the site.
4) Block US visitors from accessing the site.
Just over a year a go, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized “dozens of domain names linked to illegal file sharing and counterfeit goods” (via cnet). If I understand correctly, SOPA is meant to target similar sites, but whose domain names cannot be seized because they are foreign domain names. Among the domain names seized by ICE was dajaz1.com, a popular hip hop blog. The evidence of copyright infringement? Songs sent by representatives of the copyright holder to dajaz1 to promote on their blog. Dajaz1.com was returned to its rightful owner but only after more than a year after it was wrongfully seized (via techdirt x2).
Do we really need a bill to expand powers that are already being abused?
If you live in the US and haven’t already contacted your Congressmen, please do. Google has a simple form here you can fill out and it takes less than a minute (unless you have a really really long name or type really slowly)