- SOPA - The Stop Online Piracy Act , 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.
- PIPA - The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011), 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.
- OPEN - The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act) is a draft text for legislation proposed as an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act by United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and United States Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA)
SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of proposed legislation that will be debated and voted on, on the floors of the House and Senate respectively, beginning on Jan 24th. The purported purpose of these bills is to limit/discourage/stop online piracy. On the face of it, that sounds great. I, as a diligent supporter of copyright, should be thrilled. The problem, however, it that neither of these bills will actually achieve it's stated purpose. Instead, they will catch us all in their overly broad net.
I could try to explain to you the legal ins and outs of these two bills but there are others who will do that much better than I (Stick with me to the end. There will be links). What I want to do, instead, is to explain what the success of either of these pieces of legislation will mean to us. By us, I mean, bloggers, crafters, friends, family, small business owners, anyone with an online presence be it business or pleasure.
The following actions would put us at risk of losing our blogs, our PayPal accounts, or even, in the extreme, spending as much as five years in prison (I really, really want to believe that things will not get that bad but the entertainment industry does have a history of insisting on maximum penalties for grandma, et al).
- That cute photo of your toddler hugging Mickey Mouse at Disney? Don't post it. (Mickey, after all, is a trademarked symbol).
- A well meaning comment on your blog, with a link to a YouTube clip of a Fox News segment. You had better hope not. The only way to protect yourself will be to very carefully moderate all comments or not allow them at all.
- Have a video of yourself singing New York, New York at a family party? Nope, you can't show that off, either. (no royalties = copyright infringement).
- A stock photo of a book you are reviewing? Bad!
- A video of your family singing Happy Birthday? Don't even think about it!
- Do you like YouTube? I don't see how they can continue under the constant threat of legal action.
- Ravelry? Twitter? Facebook? G+? Reddit? It's not looking good for social media either.
I am not unaware that entertainment companies are taking a financial hit from pirates and the unscrupulous people who keep them in business. Not for a moment am I suggesting that nothing be done to help alleviate the problem and punish the participants. However, there is a more reasonable, more effective, option. Congressional Republicans and Democrats came together to write the OPEN Act (Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act). Follow the link under the chart at the top of this post and you will see that the OPEN Act would give relief to the entertainment companies, while not sinking to the level of censorship, black lists, and other draconian measures.
- SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)
- PIPA (Protect IP Act)
- The Problem With SOPA/PIPA
- CNN: SOPA Explained
- SOPA Saga Continues
- EFF: Internet Blacklist Legislation
- CNN: Why Wikipedia is Going Down at Midnight
- Web goes on Strike
- OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act)
- An Alternative to SOPA
- Section by Section Explanation of The OPEN Act