SOPA: What’s All the Fuss About?

Controversy and anger over the US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been gathering since the bill was introduced nearly three months ago.

Corporate supporters of the bill have been the targets of organized boycotts. GoDaddy, for example, was a supporter of SOPA until December 29’s “Dump GoDaddy Day” gained enough traction to force the company to reverse its position on SOPA.

Meanwhile, popular websites such as Reddit and Boing Boing will show their opposition to SOPA by “going dark” (i.e., shutting down) for one day on January 18th. Google and Facebook are being campaigned to undertake a similar shutdown to show their opposition to SOPA.

So what’s all the fuss about? SOPA grants copyright holders the ability to launch legal action against “rogue websites” that had, directly or indirectly, facilitated the unauthorized distribution of their content. While the propose bill sounds, on the surface, to be serving a noble purpose, opponents criticize the bill as too far-reaching, vague in its definitions, and at risk of detrimentally impacting legitimate websites. Furthermore, the bill’s proposal to implement DNS blocking would undermine a key element of the Internet’s infrastructure. An exhaustive list of why SOPA and the related Protect IP bills are fatally flawed authored by Mike Masnick is available on TechDirt.

Even the Obama administration has weighed in against the bill, citing the DNS-related provisions of the bill as a major concern.

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how Congress reacts as opposition to SOPA culminates this week.


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