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.