Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is the Stop Online Piracy Act?

A particular piece of federal legislation has been making waves lately, and it seemed to be a perfect time to review it and discuss its potential impacts.

What it is:  The Stop Internet Piracy Act is an effort to stop internet piracy.  It would do so by allowing the government to shut down websites that it believed were hosting pirated content and allow the government to require that search engines remove the affected sites.

Arguments for:  According to proponents, the US loses $135 billion to internet piracy every year.  Proponents argue that this costs jobs and acts as a deterrent to investment.  Those lobbying for the bills passage include trial lawyers, record producers and movie studios.

Arguments against:  Opponents argue that this bill will grant the government too much power and cause too many innocent websites to be censored.  Opponents include major internet giants (Facebook, Google, Twitter and more) as well as civil libertarians.

Current status in Congress:  The legislation has already cleared the House of Representatives.  In the Senate, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has placed a hold on the bill because of his concerns that it would limit free speech.


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