Stop Online Piracy Act
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (also known as the E-PARASITE Act, House Bill 3261, or H.R. 3261) was a bill that was being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives that was demanded by the wealthy corporations as well as the music and film industry. If passed, this bill would impose a number of controversial measures for dealing with online piracy including the distribution of copyrighted material via the internet. The Attorney General would be able to close down websites that infringe copyrights, and ban the site from online payment mechanisms such as PayPal and Visa. He could also prohibit the sites' online advertising, and disable Google from ranking and linking to infringing sites.
The corresponding Senate bill, deceptively named by Democrat leadership as the PROTECT IP Act, was being pushed through the Democratic Senate by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Harry Reid (D-NV), whom liberals helped reelect in 2010.
Former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd—now chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America—is a leading advocate of the bill and criticized the website blackout that occurred on Jan. 18 as a "gimmick":
|“||designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services.||”|
Proponents of the bill claim that it exists to protect the intellectual properties, and revenue of copyright holders, and is necessary to enforce copyright laws in the US. However, opponents state that it violates the First Amendment, that it will cripple and ultimately destroy the Internet, and will threaten online free speech. Some critics have likened this bill to China's Great Firewall.
If one were to use copyrighted music on YouTube ten times, this person would receive a five-year prison sentence, causing unnecessary arrests of people even including children using the music for amateur videos, to "protect" big-name artists from copyright infringement.
Sponsors of the bill
- Mark Amodei [R-NV2]
- Joe Baca [D-CA43]
- John Barrow [D-GA12]
- Karen Bass [D-CA33]
- Howard Berman (D-CA)
- Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
- Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)
- John Carter [R-TX31]
- Steve Chabot (R-OH)
- Judy Chu [D-CA32]
- Jim Cooper [D-TN5]
- John Conyers (D-MI)
- Tim Holden [D-PA17] - no longer supports
- Ted Deutch (D-FL)
- Elton Gallegly (R-CA)
- Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
- Timothy Griffin (R-AR) - no longer supports
- Peter T. King [R-NY3]
- John Larson [D-CT1]
- Ben R. Luján [D-NM3]
- Thomas Marino [R-PA10]
- Alan Nunnelee [R-MS1]
- Bill Owens [D-NY23]
- Ben Quayle [R-AZ3] - no longer supports
- Dennis A. Ross (R-FL) - no longer supports
- Steve Scalise [R-LA1]
- Brad Sherman [D-CA27]
- Adam Schiff (D-CA)
- Lamar Smith (R-TX)
- Lee Terry (R-NE) - no longer supports
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-FL20]
- Melvin Watt [D-NC12]
The primary supporters of the bill are Hollywood (including its trade association, MPAA, which is led by former Democrat U.S. Senator Chris Dodd) and the music industry (led by its trade group, the Recording Industry Association of America). Other supporters include include television companies, Viacom, Nike, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Governors, the Better Business Bureau.
This legislation is one of the few bills that both conservatives and liberals vehemently oppose. Everyone from leftist occupiers to the Tea Party think this bill is a bad idea, yet Obama has not stated that he would veto it. Among the many critics of the bill are Conservapedia, ConservativeNewsAndViews.com, The Heritage Foundation, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Mozilla (the creators of Firefox), MoveOn.org, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Ron Paul, who was at the time a candidate in the 2012 GOP presidential primaries, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and Rep. Darrell Issa.
The Obama Administration released a statement which read, in part, "we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet. Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.". The administration has also released a statement implying that it will veto the legislation should it reach the president's desk.
On January 18, 2012, some websites launched a protest of SOPA and PIPA. English Wikipedia shut down for 24 hours, and Google ran a black banner. English Wikipedia shut down after a quick discussion generated comments from 1,800 users. 763 of those users supported the shutdown, while the rest favored other actions or no actions. Many of those voting for a shut down were newly created accounts, so the vote did not reflect the wishes of the 100,000 Wikipedia editors. Other Wikipedia projects, such as Simple English Wikipedia, voted to not protest. During and after the protest, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) urged users to contact their Congressional representatives. WMF claimed that SOPA "threatened the existence of Wikipedia" while internal critics there disputed that claim. ConservativeNewsAndViews.com shut down and redirected to a site criticizing SOPA and PIPA.
The day after the online protest, the United States Department of Justice shut down Megaupload, a website allegedly associated with software piracy. Media attention quickly shifted from the protest to the Megaupload crack-down.
- http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/112%20HR%203261.pdf (emphasis added)
- SOPA Blackout: MoveOn.Org Joins Protest, WebProNews, January 16, 2012