Nov 16, 2011

How concerned are you that SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) will pass, and what impact will it have if it does?

The anit-piracy laws that Congress looks like it is going to pass has me worried. To me it seems like a huge attack on freedom of speech concealed in "anti-piracy" language, with private companies able to enforce it to the point that they can effectively destroy your on-line presence in one fell swoop if they think/suspect/claim that there is copyrighted material on your site. I really don't want to have to go back to citing everything I post online as if I'm back in college writing an academic paper. Am I being paranoid, or do others share my concerns?


this is not good enought

It's a terrible bill. You aren't being paranoid at all and Congress needs to know your feelings. You can contact your senator and congressperson via this link:


Here are two informative articles about that awful bill:

Stop Online Piracy Act

"The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R.3261, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011 by Representative Lamar Smith [R-TX] and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The aim of the bill is to help U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders fight online transmission of restricted intellectual property. Introduced by the House Judiciary Committee as building on similar legislation, the PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the Senate's Protect IP Act of 2011, this bill “modernizes [United States] criminal and civil statutes to meet new IP enforcement challenges and protect American jobs.”[3]

The bill is divided into two Titles with the first focusing on combating "foreign rogue sites", websites outside U.S. jurisdiction that enable or facilitate copyright infringement, and the second focusing on increased penalties to combat intellectual property theft via digital means.

The House Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing on SOPA for November 16, 2011.[4][5]"

SOPA Should Be Stopped: 5 Things To Know About the Controversial Bill

"Congress is currently debating the Stop Online Piracy Act, an effort to stem copyright violations through federal legislation. But do lawmakers and American citizens, really understand what SOPA's effect will be if passed?"

I share your concern, although I think it is more a misguided and foolish method of repayment for campaign contributions by the RIAA than an attempt at stiffling freedom of speech.  The big problem in the short term is that no one is going to know where the boundries lie.  There was an article in ars technica today about one of the sponsors in Congress having copyrighted news clips posted on his website and available for download.  This would be forbidden, but there is an exemption for fair use, and anti-streaming provisions only apply when done willfully.  So that says that if you didn't "mean" to infringe on a copyright, you didn't violate the law.  


The problem is that owners/hosts of website are expected to police what is there, and I am darn certain that if they get a complaint from BMI/Sony/WB/whoever, they are not going to take the time to ask each individual if they really meant to violate the [proposed] law.  They are likely just to shut down your site.  Then you can try to pick up the pieces.  And do you think it will be easy to get PayPal to reinstate your account if they get a complaint?  I don't, judging for how hard it was to get a clear error resolved that PayPal made on one of my personal accounts. 


My personal opinion about SOPA is that it is a terrible potential law.  But generally people don't pay attention to the terrible things that the people they vote for do everyday in congress, unless it is one of the hotbutton partisan cultural issues that get people all fired up.  Hopefully enough people will call and write their senators and representatives on SOPA (& the companion bill in the Senate).  The one upside is that there is opposition from groups on the left and right side of the political spectrum, so maybe there is some hope.   

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