January 18, 2012, 12:19 PM — According to legal and technical experts, there are plenty of reasons the Stop Online Privacy Act and Protect IP Act won't protect the rights of copyright owners in the way their Congressional sponsors and corporate backers claim.
The clearest and (once someone points it out) most obvious is this:
SOPA and PIPA include provision to enforce copyrights and "stop online piracy" by requiring that offending web sites, effectively, disappear from the Internet.
They don't do anything to stop any site from operating, stop users from going to sites offering illegal downloads or create ways the U.S. justice system can prosecute owners of foreign sites offering illegal downloads of copyrighted content, according to Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the conservative Cato Institute and former Washington editor for ArsTechnica.
How can SOPA and PIPA be so draconian if they don't do anything?
Supporters and opponents disagree on a lot about the bills.
They disagree about the process of imposing punitive measures and whether it's appropriate to punish a whole web site for violations from individual users, but not about what that punishment is: The ability to make a web site disappear from the point of view of U.S. Internet users.
The original version of SOPA allowed the Dept. of Justice to order search engines and ISPs to delete DNS entries and search results pointing to banned sites – based on complaints from copyright owners and a process that did not allow those accused to defend themselves – making it impossible for U.S. Internet users to get to the sites.
The updated version of SOPA, as well as PIPA, put the power to penalize sites in the hands of a judge and eliminate language that forces Google, Bing and other search engines to comply.