The Stop Online Piracy Act

The Stop Online Piracy Act is currently being debated in the US house of representatives. Brian Pellot considers the potential consequences of the bill.

The case

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), currently being debated in the US house of representatives, aims to strengthen the enforcement of copyright infringement laws online. The bill would allow the Department of Justice and individual copyright holders to seek court orders that would bar US search engines, advertisers and internet service providers from linking to, doing business with or allowing access to infringing websites at home and abroad. On a user-level, the bill would also make unauthorised streaming of copyrighted content a felony.

Proponents of the bill, including Hollywood studios and record labels, say it would reduce illegal copyright infringement. Opponents, including executives at Google and Facebook, say the proposal would stifle creativity and innovation, undermine online security and constitute censorship that infringes on the free speech rights of individuals and companies.

Author opinion

Online copyright infringement is a serious concern for global business that needs to be addressed. SOPA’s demands, however, are still too broad and far-reaching to ensure that the legal and financial benefits of preserving intellectual property rights outweigh the harm this bill could cause for e-commerce, free expression and the internet as we know it. If someone in America wants to illegally access copyrighted content, the internet’s infrastructural loopholes will allow them to do so with or without this bill. Any law to protect intellectual property online should target end users, those who illegally host and willfully access copyrighted content, not the companies in between that merely link to or load websites hosting infringing content. This bill should be scrapped in favour of a more specific proposal that targets only those individuals and websites that directly infringe on copyrights.

- Brian Pellot

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Comments (4)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. I have to agree that the bill is too broad and it has aroused many irritated internet users who feel threatened by it. Wikipedia’s blackout and google’s protest had quite an effect. Those two website really brought up the issue of broadness of this bill, which is pretty scary to me personally. Granting government the power to censor would be equal to a form of tyranny, as our every day lives are highly influenced by internet.

    The producer houses need to address the issue of piracy in a different way.

  2. The contribution of Hollywood studios to the US economy is debatable. The MPAA and RIAA are some of the worst offenders when it comes to tax evasion, and very few productions, if any, are considered “profitable” (and thus tax-able).

    Bad for the artists, citizens, and consumers alike. Traditional media needs a shake-up, not protection in the form of paid-for policy.

    More on Hollywood accounting:

    More on RIAA accounting:

  3. I personally have singed a petition to stop this bill from going any further. I can see the side of the Hollywood studios, who make a substantial contribution the US’s economy, however as internet user I see a bigger threat coming from policy. A lot of other content available online can be restricted because it.

  4. “Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA [SOPA’s Senate counterpart] by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia: instead, they will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, and encouraging them to share their views with their elected representatives, and via social media.” –

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford.

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