Stop Online Piracy Act
The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was introduced in the United States House of Representatives in October by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and 12 other bipartisan co-sponsors. The proposed bill would have allowed the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders against any website that facilitates or enables copyright infringement. The DoJ and copyright holder would have been able to take legal action against a site if it were deemed to have “only limited purpose or use other than infringement,” and demand that search engines, social media sites, and domain name services block access to the site.
SOPA, and it’s Senate equivalent PIPA, would have killed the internet as we know it today. It would have given the U.S. government and copyright holders the same abilities that Iran and China use to block the open and free internet from their citizens. High profile members of the online community such as Biz Stone, Jimmy Wales, and Arianna Huffington opposed the legislation. Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay and Facebook publicly urged Congress to reconsider both SOPA and PIPA. Not only would these bills have stifle innovationd, they would “deny the next generation of entrepreneurs and founders the same opportunities we all had.”
SOPA is a clear violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.
- It delegates power to a private party to suppress speech without notice or judicial hearing.
- The definition of a website within Section 103(A) is vague and classifies those that enable or facilitate infringement by a third-party as members of the “criminal” party.
- For more information about SOPA violating your First Amendment rights, please see “The ‘Stop Online Pirarcy Act’ (SOPA) Violates The First Amendment,” written by Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard Constitutional Law professor.
Thankfully, Internet activists came out in full force on January 18th, 2012. Websites across the world participated in a global “blackout” in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act. As a result of overwhelming pressure, SOPA and PIPA were shelved for the foreseeable future (though it is important to note that they could rear their ugly heads in the future).
Sources and Further Reading:
- Stop Online Piracy Act at Wikipedia
- SOPA at OpenCongress
- An Open Letter to Washington – signed by leading innovators, CEOs, and entrepreneurs from across the web
- Stop American Censorship
- WTF is Sopa?
- Internet Censorship is Wrong by The Cato Institute
- Young Turks
- Senator Jared Polis – The Internet is for Porn
- White House Petition to Veto SOPA
- Petition to Congress to Save the Internet
- Electronic Frontier Foundation Action Center
- SOPA on reddit
- Boycott companies that support SOPA
- How SOPA will lead to NODA