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The proposed legislation targets not just infringers, but anyone suspected of being associated with them—advertisers, payment sites, even those who just link to them. With their shaky understanding of technology, the bills will potentially result in entire websites like say, Wikipedia being blocked due to infringements found in a small section of them. Though the bills were not designed to be censorship legislation, censorship could be the outcome, as false positives and false infringement claims could block access to millions of non-infringing sites.

Meanwhile, censorship-circumvention tools like TOR, used to evade Net-censors in Iran and China, will be rendered illegal, as such tools can also be used to gain access to pirated content. No one would invest because of the legal liability. Jesse Brown is the host of TVO. Next The most important charts to watch in Little-known startup inside Google raises profile with sightseeing tool for Glass device.

How SOPA would affect you: FAQ - CNET

China steps up campaign against major opinion-leading bloggers, to wrest control of Internet. Titled the "Manager's Amendment", it contained a number of changes in response to criticism of the original. Goodlatte, "Intellectual property is one of America's chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet American inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.

This legislation will update the laws to ensure that the economic incentives our Framers enshrined in the Constitution over years ago—to encourage new writings, research, products, and services— remain effective in the 21st century's global marketplace, which will create more American jobs. Rights holders see intermediaries—the companies who host, link to, and provide e-commerce around the content—as the only accessible defendants.

John Conyers D-MI said, "Millions of American jobs hang in the balance, and our efforts to protect America's intellectual property are critical to our economy's long-term success. The Motion Picture Association of America MPAA representative who testified before the committee said that the motion picture and film industry supported two million jobs and 95, small businesses. Pfizer spokesman John Clark testified that patients could not always detect cleverly-forged websites selling drugs that were either misbranded or simply counterfeit.

RxRights, a consumer-advocacy group, issued a statement saying that Clark failed "to acknowledge that there are Canadian and other international pharmacies that do disclose where they are located, require a valid doctor's prescription and sell safe, brand-name medications produced by the same leading manufacturers as prescription medications sold in the U. Mentioned on the Texas Insider, President Obama "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression", said interviewer Jay Carney. Or what if France blocked American sites it believed contained hate speech?

Tribe , a Harvard University professor of constitutional law , released an open letter on the web stating that SOPA would "undermine the openness and free exchange of information at the heart of the Internet. And it would violate the First Amendment ". There is no inconsistency between protecting an open Internet and safeguarding intellectual property. Protecting intellectual property is not the same as censorship; the First Amendment does not protect stealing goods off trucks. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation , proxy servers , such as those used during the Arab Spring , can also be used to thwart copyright enforcement and therefore may be regulated by the act.

He wrote that "SOPA would make many DNS circumvention tools illegal," which could put "dissident communities" in autocratic countries "at much greater risk than they already are. It would be highly counter-productive for the U. Marvin Ammori has stated the bill might make The Tor Project illegal.

Initially sponsored by the U. Naval Research Laboratory , [40] the Tor Project creates encryption technology used by dissidents in repressive regimes that consequently outlaw it. Ammori says that the U. Supreme Court case of Lamont v. Postmaster General U. Opponents have warned that SOPA could have a negative impact on online communities. Journalist Rebecca MacKinnon argued in an op-ed that making companies liable for users' actions could have a chilling effect on user-generated sites such as YouTube. Additional concerns include the possible impact on common Internet functions such as links from one site to another or accessing data from the cloud.

EFF claimed the bill would ban linking to sites deemed offending, even in search results [45] and on services such as Twitter. O'Dwyer hosted the TVShack.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has stated that the requirement that any site must self-police user generated content would impose significant liability costs and explains "why venture capitalists have said en masse they won't invest in online startups if PIPA and SOPA pass". Proponents of the bill countered these claims, arguing that filtering is already common. Michael O'Leary of the MPAA testified on November 16 that the act's effect on business would be more minimal, noting that at least 16 countries already block websites and that the Internet still functions in those countries.

Under that provision, copyright owners who felt that a site was hosting infringing content are required to request the site to remove the infringing material within a certain amount of time. According to critics of the bill such as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation , the bill's wording is vague enough that a single complaint about a site could be enough to block it, with the burden of proof resting on the site.

A provision in the bill states that any site would be blocked that "is taking, or has taken deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U. Law professor Jason Mazzone wrote, "Damages are also not available to the site owner unless a claimant 'knowingly materially' misrepresented that the law covers the targeted site, a difficult legal test to meet. The owner of the site can issue a counter-notice to restore payment processing and advertising, but services need not comply with the counter-notice.

Goodlatte stated, "We're open to working with them on language to narrow [the bill's provisions], but I think it is unrealistic to think we're going to continue to rely on the DMCA notice-and-takedown provision. Anybody who is involved in providing services on the Internet would be expected to do some things. But we are very open to tweaking the language to ensure we don't impose extraordinary burdens on legitimate companies as long as they aren't the primary purveyors [of pirated content].

O'Leary submitted written testimony in favor of the bill that expressed guarded support of current DMCA provisions. An analysis in the information technology magazine eWeek stated, "The language of SOPA is so broad, the rules so unconnected to the reality of Internet technology and the penalties so disconnected from the alleged crimes that this bill could effectively kill e-commerce or even normal Internet use. The bill also has grave implications for existing U. Art Bordsky of advocacy group Public Knowledge similarly stated, "The definitions written in the bill are so broad that any US consumer who uses a website overseas immediately gives the US jurisdiction the power to take action against it potentially.

On October 28, , the EFF called the bill a "massive piece of job-killing Internet regulation," and said, "This bill cannot be fixed; it must be killed.

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Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association , spoke out strongly against the bill, stating, "The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet", and that "It would undo the legal, safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability.

The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs.


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Lukas Biewald , founder of CrowdFlower , stated, "It'll have a stifling effect on venture capital No one would invest because of the legal liability. More than 80 percent said they would rather invest in a risky, weak economy with the current laws than a strong economy with the proposed law in effect.

If legal ambiguities were removed and good faith provisions in place, investing would increase by nearly percent. However, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of Web sites. We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity.

SOPA targets only foreign Web sites that are primarily dedicated to illegal and infringing activity. Domestic Web sites, like blogs, are not covered by this legislation. Lateef Mtima, director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University School of Law , expressed concern that users who upload copyrighted content to sites could potentially be held criminally liable themselves, saying, "Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the bill is that the conduct it would criminalize is so poorly defined.

While on its face the bill seems to attempt to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial conduct, purportedly criminalizing the former and permitting the latter, in actuality the bill not only fails to accomplish this but, because of its lack of concrete definitions, it potentially criminalizes conduct that is currently permitted under the law.

An aide to Rep. Smith said, "This bill does not make it a felony for a person to post a video on YouTube of their children singing to a copyrighted song. The bill specifically targets websites dedicated to illegal or infringing activity. Sites that host user content—like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—have nothing to be concerned about under this legislation.

A paper by the Center for Democracy and Technology claimed that the bill "targets an entire website even if only a small portion hosts or links to some infringing content. Reilly of Industry Leaders Magazine , under SOPA, culpability for distributing copyright material is extended to those who aid the initial poster of the material. For companies that use virtual private networks VPN to create a network that appears to be internal but is spread across various offices and employees' homes, any of these offsite locations that initiate sharing of copyright material could put the entire VPN and hosting company at risk of violation.

By focusing on specific sites rather than entire domains, action can be targeted against only the illegal subdomain or Internet protocol address rather than taking action against the entire domain. Anyone who knows or has that web address would still be able to reach the offending website. An editorial in the San Jose Mercury-News stated, "Imagine the resources required to parse through the millions of Google and Facebook offerings every day looking for pirates who, if found, can just toss up another site in no time.

Content on the Internet changes its place and nature rapidly, and DNS filtering is ineffective when it comes to keeping up with it. According to Markham Erickson, head of NetCoalition, which opposes SOPA, the section of the bill that would allow judges to order internet service providers to block access to infringing websites to customers located in the United States would also allow the checking of those customers' IP address , a method known as IP address blocking.

SOPA explained: What it is and why it matters

Erickson has expressed concerns that such an order might require those providers to engage in " deep packet inspection ," which involves analyzing all of the content being transmitted to and from the user, raising new privacy concerns. Policy analysts for New America Foundation say this legislation would "instigate a data obfuscation arms race" whereby by increasingly invasive practices would be required to monitor users' web traffic resulting in a "counterproductive cat-and-mouse game of censorship and circumvention [that] would drive savvy scofflaws to darknets while increasing surveillance of less technically proficient Internet users".

The Domain Name System DNS servers, sometimes likened to a telephone directory , translate browser requests for domain names into the IP address assigned to that computer or network. The original bill requires these servers to stop referring requests for infringing domains to their assigned IP addresses. DNS is robust by design against failure and requires that a lack of response is met by inquiries to other DNS servers.

In November , an anonymous top-level domain ,. A white paper by several internet security experts, including Steve Crocker and Dan Kaminsky , wrote, "From an operational standpoint, a resolution failure from a nameserver subject to a court order and from a hacked nameserver would be indistinguishable. Users running secure applications need to distinguish between policy-based failures and failures caused, for example, by the presence of an attack or a hostile network, or else downgrade attacks would likely be prolific.

The latest version of SOPA will feed that view. It allows the AG to sue "any entity that knowingly and willfully provides It's hard to escape the conclusion that this provision is aimed squarely at the browser companies. The assessment stated that the proposed DNS filtering would be unlikely to be effective, would negatively impact internet security, and would delay full implementation of DNSSEC. On November 18, House Cybersecurity Subcommittee chair Dan Lungren stated that he had "very serious concerns" about SOPA's impact on DNSSEC, adding, "we don't have enough information, and if this is a serious problem as was suggested by some of the technical experts that got in touch with me, we have to address it".

Brooklyn Law School professor Jason Mazzone warned, "Much of what will happen under SOPA will occur out of the public eye and without the possibility of holding anyone accountable. For when copyright law is made and enforced privately, it is hard for the public to know the shape that the law takes and harder still to complain about its operation. As of January 16, , there were 31 sponsors. The legislation has broad support from organizations that rely on copyright, including the Motion Picture Association of America , the Recording Industry Association of America , Entertainment Software Association , Macmillan US , Viacom , and various other companies and unions in the cable, movie, and music industries.

Chamber of Commerce support H. Smaller trade organizations, such as A2IM, which represents independent musicians, have also backed the bill. On December 5, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation , a non-partisan non-profit, published an article that blasted critics of SOPA and defended the bill. The report called opponents' claims about DNS filtering "inaccurate," their warnings against censorship as "unfounded" and recommended that the legislation be revised and passed into law.

It's very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it. Professor and Intellectual Property rights lawyer, Hillel I. The fact that the courts have said that entities like YouTube can be passive when it comes to copyright infringement, and just wait for notices rather than having to take any affirmative action, is also frustrating to them", he said. Regarding censorship concerns, he explained that none of the criminal copyright statutes in the bill were new, and therefore, "if there was a risk of abuse, that risk has always been there.

And I have confidence in the structure of our court system, that the prosecutors and the courts are held to certain standards that should not allow a statute such as this to be manipulated in that way. Copyright violations have never been protected by the First Amendment and have been routinely punished wherever they occur; including the Internet.

This proposed legislation is not inconsistent with the First Amendment; it would protect creators of speech, as Congress has done since this Nation was founded, by combating its theft. On January 14, , the Obama administration responded to a petition against the bill, stating that while it would not support legislation with provisions that could lead to Internet censorship , squelching of innovation, or reduced Internet security, it encouraged "all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.

Opponents include Google , Yahoo! On December 13, , Julian Sanchez of the libertarian think tank Cato Institute came out in strong opposition to the bill saying that while the amended version "trims or softens a few of the most egregious provisions of the original proposal The core idea is still to create an Internet blacklist The Library Copyright Alliance including the American Library Association objected to the broadened definition of "willful infringement" and the introduction of felony penalties for noncommercial streaming infringement, stating that these changes could encourage criminal prosecution of libraries.

Technology and industry's growth and success", and opposing the bill due to its impact on "innovation and dynamism". Computer scientist Vint Cerf , one of the founders of the Internet, now Google vice president, wrote to Smith, saying "Requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented 'censorship' of the Web", in a letter published on CNet.

How SOPA would affect you: FAQ

Many opponents remained firm even after Smith proposed a page amendment to the bill to address concerns. NetCoalition, which works with Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook, appreciated that Smith was listening, but says it nonetheless could not support the amendment.

Issa stated that Smith's amendment, "retains the fundamental flaws of its predecessor by blocking Americans' ability to access websites, imposing costly regulation on Web companies and giving Attorney General Eric Holder 's Department of Justice broad new powers to police the Internet".

In December , screenwriter and comics writer Steve Niles spoke out against SOPA, commenting, "I know folks are scared to speak out because a lot of us work for these companies, but we have to fight. Too much is at stake. In January , novelist, screenwriter and comics writer Peter David directed his ire at the intellectual property pirates whose activities he felt provoked the creation of SOPA. While expressing opposition to SOPA because of his view that the then-current language of the bill would go too far in its restriction of free expression, and would probably be scaled down, David argued that content pirates, such as the websites that had posted his novels online in their entirety for free downloads, as well as users who supported or took advantage of these activities, could have prevented SOPA by respecting copyright laws.

The letter reads, "As creative professionals, we experience copyright infringement on a very personal level. Commercial piracy is deeply unfair and pervasive leaks of unreleased films and music regularly interfere with the integrity of our creations. We are grateful for the measures policymakers have enacted to protect our works.

These bills would allow entire websites to be blocked without due process, causing collateral damage to the legitimate users of the same services - artists and creators like us who would be censored as a result. B expressed their opposition via Twitter. According to an NYT report February 8, , Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge said, "The movie business is fond of throwing out numbers about how many millions of dollars are at risk and how many thousands of jobs are lost We don't think it correlates to the state of the industry.

In fact, some say that it could even be a boon to artists and other creators. Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway. Organizations in the international civil and human rights community expressed concerns that SOPA would cause the United States to lose its position as a global leader in supporting a free and open Internet for public good. On November 18, , the European Parliament adopted by a large majority a resolution that "stresses the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names".

Private individuals are petitioning the Foreign and Commonwealth Office , asking for the British government to condemn the bill. The Irish law is entitled, " S. Google linked an online petition to its site, and says it collected more than 7 million signatures from the United States. Markham Erickson, executive director of NetCoalition, told Fox News that "a number of companies have had discussions about [blacking out services]" [] and discussion of the option spread to other media outlets.

Tassi also opined that Google and Facebook would have to join the blackout to reach a sufficiently broad audience. A series of pickets against the bill were held at the U. Two picketers were arrested. SOPA death celebrated as Congress recalls anti-piracy acts". The Electronic Frontier Foundation , a rights advocacy non-profit group opposing the bill, said the protests were the biggest in Internet history, with over thousand sites altering their webpages.

SOPA supporters complained that the bill was being misrepresented amidst the protests. RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said, "It's a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users and arm them with misinformation", [5] a sentiment echoed by RIAA CEO Cary Sherman who said "it's very difficult to counter the misinformation when the disseminators also own the platform". There's this thing called 'mob rule', and it's not always right.

The English Wikipedia blackout occurred for 24 hours on January 18—19, Editors and others [] mulled interrupting service for one or more days as in the Italian protest, or presenting site visitors with a blanked page directing them to further information before permitting them to complete searches. The Daily Mail estimated that 7, smaller websites either joined in the blackout for the day or posted some kind of protest at the proposed legislation. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January , [] but on January 17 Chairman Smith said that "Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.

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Lamar Smith has stated, "The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution", [9] and Sen. At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, there was concern among some observers that the set of speakers who testified lacked technical expertise. Member after member admitted that they really didn't have any idea what impact SOPA's regulatory provisions would have on the DNS, online security, or much of anything else.

Lofgren stated, "We have no technical expertise on this panel today. Impugning the motives of the critics instead of the substance is a mistake. Lungren told Politico's Morning Tech that he had "very serious concerns" about SOPA's impact on DNSSEC, adding "we don't have enough information, and if this is a serious problem as was suggested by some of the technical experts that got in touch with me, we have to address it. I can't afford to let that go by without dealing with it.

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association , stated, "The significant potential harms of this bill are reflected by the extraordinary coalition arrayed against it. Concerns about SOPA have been raised by Tea Partiers , progressives, computer scientists, human rights advocates, venture capitalists, law professors, independent musicians, and many more. Unfortunately, these voices were not heard at today's hearing. An editorial in Fortune wrote, "This is just another case of Congress doing the bidding of powerful lobbyists—in this case, Hollywood and the music industry, among others.

It would be downright mundane if the legislation weren't so draconian and the rhetoric surrounding it weren't so transparently pandering. Since its introduction, a number of opponents to the bill have expressed concerns.