Perhaps you went to look up something on Wikipedia today, or Google, or any of a number of other sites, only to find them dark. "What the hell is SOPA?" you may be asking.
What the hell indeed.
SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act (HR3261); PIPA is its lesser known bastard sibling: Protect Intellectual Property Act. Both were drafted at the behest of the Big Media cartels who own the rights to most movies, audio recordings, television shows, and print media.
Note I did not say they created these things: they merely own the "rights" to them (whatever that means).
Because their business model is broken, they've decided to break the Internet.
In it's original form, SOPA criminalizes certain web technologies, whether there are legitimate uses or not. It allow the Justice Department to order the takedown of websites, without any type of due process, and make sites criminally liable for user-created content. A Big Company, irked by a website critical of it, can claim that using the company name is a violation of copyright and (without due process) have the site silenced. Absurd you say? We've already seen a long string of DCMA-related takedowns based on the flimsiest of legal logic.
It also allows judges to order websites be blocked and that requests to the site be inspected. That's *your* requests. It fundamentally changes the way the underlying technology works. Considering how well Congress works, do you really want to let them decide how the Internet works?
As Cory Doctorow put it, all to prevent someone from downloading the latest Ashton Kutchner movie.
Cory Doctorow explained what it was *really* about in a recent lecture entitled "The Coming War on General Computation." Here it is on YouTube:
Rather read it? There's a transcript available, too.
This may be the money quote:
And on the network side, attempts to make a network that can't be used for copyright infringement always converges with the surveillance measures that we know from repressive governments. So, SOPA, the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act, bans tools like DNSSec because they can be used to defeat DNS blocking measures. And it blocks tools like Tor, because they can be used to circumvent IP blocking measures. In fact, the proponents of SOPA, the Motion Picture Association of America, circulated a memo, citing research that SOPA would probably work, because it uses the same measures as are used in Syria, China, and Uzbekistan, and they argued that these measures are effective in those countries, and so they would work in America, too!My Libertarian friends finally got wind of this -- and that's good -- but they don't fully get it. They think this is just about the government encroaching on them. And while that's technically correct, in all their Libertarian Free Market daze, they've conveniently forgotten that it's a slice of Corporate America who's pushing for this piece of shit.
The good news is this issue has finally gained enough attention that our Elected Officials who put forth this turd have started back-pedaling their initial support, and are busily pontificating on how Piracy Is Bad, but This Legislation May Go Too Far.
Nice work, fellas.
Fear not, once the hubbub dies down the Forces of Evil will start working their lists again. Want to do something? Go to the EFF and sign their on-line petition.
As written in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, Congress is empowered
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.Notice it says "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts," not "to guarantee the ability of corporations to maximize profit."