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.