Top stories of 2011: The year in technology

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Stop Online Piracy Act

Stop Online Piracy Act

Introduced in October in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, would give U.S. law enforcement the ability to obtain court orders to stop search engines, payment processors and other entities from doing business with websites accused of enabling copyright infringement. The Act would also allow copyright holders to obtain court orders to block allegedly infringing sites under certain conditions. SOPA is wider in scope than the similar Protect IP Act in the U.S. Senate. Critics say the bills, particularly SOPA, give law enforcement sweeping powers to censor legitimate websites, such as YouTube, that may host some infringing content, and could end up being misused by companies as a way to block competitors. The legislative debate will continue well into 2012.

SOPA explained in cartoon form

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