What is SOPA?

Posted Jan 18,2012 by
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Confused by all this talk about SOPA? Well, you’ve come to the right place – this blog post will define and briefly explain what SOPA is and why it’s important.

SOPA stands for the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ – an anti-piracy bill introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith on 26th October, 2011. Lamar Smith also had 12 co-sponsors in the passing of this bill.

The essence of SOPA, which makes it a dangerous bill, is the power of intellectual property holders. For example, if Sony Pictures launches a case against a website in Mexico for streaming one of their movies, SOPA will enable Sony Pictures to have the website removed from Google, or to stop PayPal from accepting payments from them. In a sense, this limits free distribution of data as well as, to an extent, freedom of speech.

Another bill has also been passed in the Senate, called the Protect IP Act (S.968). PIPA will be voted upon next Wednesday, while SOPA has been put on hold till February. The anti-SOPA movement took some time to catch steam, but has suddenly become an all-out war as websites like Wikipedia, Reddit, WordPress, TwitPic, The Oatmeal and many others black out in protest. Rallies have also been planned, and although the number of companies supporting SOPA was big – the bill is quickly losing support as 3 of the original sponsors pulled out just a few hours ago.

What do you think of SOPA/PIPA, and where do you stand on the anti-SOPA movement?

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