If you opened a newspaper or booted up a computer in the last few weeks, you likely heard of SOPA. But what is SOPA, what are the proponents and opponents of SOPA saying, and what is the future of SOPA?
What is SOPA?
The ‘Stop Online Piracy Act,’ better known around the United Stated by as SOPA, is a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX). The Bill was designed to expand the scope of law enforcement to better fight the online trafficking of copyrighted materials. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyright material, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The full text of the bill can be found online at The Library of Congress.
Proponents of SOPA
Proponents of the bill argue that SOPA protects intellectual property and corresponding industries, jobs, and revenue, while bolstering the enforcement of current copyright laws. Proponents also claim that piracy costs the U.S. economy up to $250 billion a year. Some sources dispute those numbers including the authors at Freakonomics.com and The U.S. Government Accountability Office, who in an April 2010 report, reports that estimating economic losses from piracy are “extremely difficult.”
Opponents of SOPA
Opponents of the bill claim that SOPA threatens free speech and innovation while bypassing the “safe harbor” protections from liability presently afforded to Internet sites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Furthermore, opponents of SOPA believe the bill could bring about an unprecedented censorship of the Web.
Is SOPA Dead?
Last Friday – January 20, 2012 – following an outpouring of opposition (including a petition drive by the Internet juggernaut Google that attracted more than 7 million participants and a one-day blackout by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia) Senate and House leaders promised to put off further action on legislation to combat online piracy.
So yes, SOPA is dead…for now.
How do you feel about SOPA? Please comment below.
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Stop Online Piracy Act Wikipedia.com
SOPA and PIPA: What Went Wrong? PCWorld
SOPA is dead, Smith pulls the bill CBSNews.com