Blackout on the ‘Net: What SOPA and PIPA Mean to You

You’ve probably heard a lot about SOPA and PIPA lately and for good reason.
First things first, SOPA and PIPA are not cutesy pet names; they’re online piracy provisions that threaten the internet as you know it according to the bills’ opponents.
SOPA, a bill from the House of Representatives, is the Stop Online Piracy Act; PIPA a bill from the Senate, is Protect Intellectual Property Act.
The Problem: Piracy vs. Internet Censorship

The targets of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are foreign websites that have been accused of stealing copyrighted material; the main backer of SOPA is the Motion Picture Association of America.

The problem, according to those against SOPA is that the bill allows for the government and a giant corporation (i.e., Hollywood film houses) to block/and or delete suspected URLs of those foreign sites.

In a nutshell, SOPA would engage a government-enforced firewall of foreign sites accused of piracy.

If you shop online, surf online or socialize online, the bill, if passed, could affect your online experience.

The Players

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, vowed to kick it up a notch for SOPA in February; the bill is currently stalled in the House.

In protest major websites, Wikipedia, Reddit, and a few others, participated in Blackout Day, and the Motion Picture Association of America called the move a “dangerous gimmick” that goes against the spirit of working together to find a solution to online piracy.
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, in a statement.
The Senate has its own bill to stop online piracy, PIPA, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), is Sen. Patrick Leahy’s baby.

Sen. Leahy says he would consider tweaking the bill in the spirit of compromise.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring an amended version of PIPA to the floor for a vote on January 23; the Net Coalition (Google, Yahoo and Amazon), launched a major multimedia ad campaign in eight states opposing PIPA. The ad campaign (print and broadcast) ends on January 22nd.

Zondra Hughes

Deputy Editor, Rolling Out

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