Black Out Wednesday

Today, in protest of the United States House of Representatives Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, HR 3261) and the Senate’s Protect Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PIPA, S. 968), some of your favorite internet sites are staging a “black out“.

What is SOPA?

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a 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, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.

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 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 ten 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.


What is PIPA?

The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA), also known as Senate Bill 968 or S. 968, is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. The bill was introduced on May 12, 2011, by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 11 bipartisan co-sponsors. The PROTECT IP Act is a re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA),which failed to pass in 2010.

The bill defines infringement as distribution of illegal copies, counterfeit goods, or anti-digital rights management technology. Infringement exists if “facts or circumstances suggest [the site] is used, primarily as a means for engaging in, enabling, or facilitating the activities described.”


Voting begins in the Senate on January 24, 2012.

We want to know – how do you feel about SOPA & PIPA? Leave your comments below.

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