Monday, 16 January 2012
CASE 380 - SOPA
The Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA, also known as H.R. 3261, is a new proposed bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Now before the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites. They cite examples such as Google's $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to buy illegal prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.
Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment, is Internet censorship, will cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech. Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and even proposed service blackouts by major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate 24th January 2012
Opponents include Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, Roblox, Reddit, the Wikimedia Foundation, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch
The legislation has broad support from organizations that rely on copyright, including the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Macmillan US, Viacom, and various other companies and unions in the cable, movie, and music industries. Supporters also include trademark-dependent companies such as Nike, L'Oréal, and Acushnet Company.
Both the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support H.R. 3261, and many industries have also publicly praised the legislation.
In June 2011, former Bill Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry and former George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon, business partners in Public Strategies, Inc., started a campaign which echoed McCurry's earlier work in the network neutrality legislative fight. McCurry represented SOPA/PIPA in Politico as a way to combat theft on-line, drawing a favorable comment from the MPAA. On the 15th, McCurry and Arts + Labs co-chair McKinnon sponsored the "CREATE – A Forum on Creativity, Commerce, Copyright, Counterfeiting and Policy" conference with members of Congress, artists and information-business executives.
On September 22, 2011, a letter signed by over 350 businesses and organizations—including NBCUniversal, Pfizer, Ford Motor Company, Revlon, NBA, and Macmillan US—was sent to Congress encouraging the passage of the legislation. Fightonlinetheft.com, a website of The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (a project of the United States Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center, cites a long list of supporters including these and the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Attorneys General, the Better Business Bureau, and the National Consumers League.
Misguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there’s a lot less to worry about.Though the administration did [not] issue a formal veto threat, the White House’s opposition signaled the end of these bills, at least in their current form. A few hours later, Congress shelved SOPA, putting off action on the bill indefinitely. Too much money would be at stake, too many big companies paying lots and lots of tax