FAQ: SOPA and PIPA

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) have been making headlines, but what are they, exactly? Here are the facts.

By Jared Newman, PC World |  Networking, copyright, legislation

SOPA and PIPA supporters argue that prophecies of a broken Internet are overblown. Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, writes that SOPA clearly defines infringing sites based on Supreme Court holdings and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and requires rights holders to follow a strict set of rules when trying to get payment cut off to an infringing site. False claims, Sherman argues, "can result in damages, including costs and attorneys' fees."

Sherman also points out that previous actions against infringing sites, such as the MGM vs. Grokster case in 2005, triggered similar doomsday predictions from the tech industry, yet digital music innovation has flourished since then.

Who's for SOPA and PIPA, and Who's Against?

Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is the author of SOPA, which is backed by 31 cosponsors in the House. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) wrote PIPA, which has 40 cosponsors in the Senate. ProPublica has a visualized list of supporters in both the House and Senate.

The White House has expressed concerns about the bills in their current state, writing in a statement that "any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet."

As for outside parties, the list of SOPA supporters consists mostly of media companies, including record labels, TV networks, movie studios, and book publishers. Some companies with an interest in fighting sales of other counterfeit goods, such as beauty-product maker Revlon and pharmaceutical company Pfizer, also appear on the list.

Opposition to SOPA and PIPA is strong in the tech sector. An open letter to Washington speaking out against the legislation was signed by founders of Craigslist, eBay, Google, Mozilla, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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