Posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Tomorrow the main pages of Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites will go dark to protest support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives which is so wide-ranging in effect that it threatens to curb not only piracy and illegal activity, but the method of information use which characterizes the internet. (There is also the associated Protect IP act in the Senate.)
One big target of SOPA is any site that operates like The Pirate Bay. That is, sites outside the US that host or point to intellectual property copyrighted in the US. Others are foreign sites that scrape and steal content — sites such as a few that take /Film-written content on a daily basis, for example.
If SOPA passes, however, the power to shut down web sites in the US will be unprecedented. The US attorney general could shut down websites by asking courts to order ISPs to block access to them from within the US. And the fine print creates power to block sites — even legitimate sites — suspected or accused of copyright infringement, or those that link to sites that infringe copyright. That block could go into action very quickly, with little if any warning to the website.
Under SOPA, sites like /Film could well end up not being able to exist. Any one complaint about how we have used a video clip or song could shut us down. Potentially, even a scoop about an upcoming film could result in destructive action. The indiscriminate power created by SOPA is the reason for the protests by many internet giants.
One of the big supporters of SOPA, however, is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA), which likes to blame piracy for a wide variety of industry ills. Today, in what seems like a hot-headed move, MPAA chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd issued a statement blasting companies planning SOPA protests. Read it after the break. Read More »