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Will the whole SOPA / PIPA thing affect me?

As you know doubt would be aware, right now as this post goes live, some big sites such as wikipedia have blacked themselves out to raise awareness about the SOPA and PIPA bills that look set to pass through congress in the US tomorrow. Although this is a US bill, because of the nature of the internet and the way we do business globally now this bill if passed could potentially and most probably will affect us here in Australia.

A very brief dissection of the Bill as broken down by Jamal from 1stwebdesigner.com

PIPA

Let’s begin by first breaking down the first of the two bills that were introduced, PIPA. PIPA is an acronym for the Protect IP Act, and was first introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2011 by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley. It is also good to take note that PIPA is a re-written legislation, the original being the failed to pass Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) of 2010.

PIPA, if passed, will give  U.S. corporations and the government the right to seek affirmative legal action with any website that they see as enabling copyright infringement whether of U.S. origin or not. Here is a breakdown of all that they will have the power to do.

  • Force U.S. internet providers to block access to websites deemed as enablers of copyright infringement
  • Seek legal action by suing search engines, blog sites, directories, or any site in general to have the black listed sites removed from their website
  • Will be able to force advertising services on infringing websites, and those supporting of them, to remove them from their advertising accounts
  • Companies will also have the power to sue any new websites that get started after this bill is passed, if they believe that they are not doing a good job of preventing infringement on your website

SOPA

SOPA is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and is a bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Represenative Lamar Smith on October 26, 2011. In similarity with PIPA, SOPA is a build on a previous legislation. This legislation being the PRO-IP Act of 2008.

SOPA, if passed, will work in conjunction with PIPA. As described by such entities as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SOPA is nothing more so than the U.S. government and private corporations black list. Here is a breakdown of the power given to the government and private corporations.

  • The U.S. Attorney General can now seek a court order that would force search engines, advertisers, DNS providers, servers, and payment processors from having any contact with allegedly infringing websites
  • It will allow private corporations to create their own personal hit lists composed of websites they feel are breaking their copyright policies, ironically this doesn’t have any odd feelings of a legal mafia at all. These companies will be able to directly contact a website’s payment processors a notice to cut all off payment involvement with the targeted website. This payment processors and website of question will then have five days to act before it is simply taken down.
  • Payment processors will have the power to cut off any website they work with, as long as they can provide a strong reason of why they believe this site is violating copyrights

So essentially as a website owner the onus is on you – which yes to a certain degree it always should be, but smaller operations can not always have someone there constantly watching Facebook and their user forums and what is posted there etc every minute of the day.

The other scary thing is, sharing and social web interactions and attractions as we know them would disappear. For instance these guys below have a huge viral video going round at the moment with their unique quirky cover of Goyte – under the new laws if this song was owned by a record company in the US they could go after YouTube for having it posted to their site, Facebook if people have shared it to Facebook and even us for posting the video on this site … scary – What do you think?

 





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