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SOPA Debate Steps Up a Gear

20 December 2011 by Jenn Granger

Online discussions about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) have ramped up this week, with entertainment companies revealing a $91m spend lobbying for the bill.

If this has passed you by, SOPA is a bill introduced in the American House of Representatives in October this year. If passed, the bill will give the U.S law enforcement agencies and copyright holders more powers to fight online piracy. Court orders could be brought against websites who allegedly enabled or facilitated copyright infringement. Possible actions taken against these sites would include barring online advertising networks and payment gateways such as PayPal from working. ISP’s could also be blocked from accessing the sites.

Within the U.S there has been a lot of conflict over this bill with big names taking different sides.

In Hollywood, among the Movie, TV and Music companies, the bill is being welcomed with open arms. They have apparently spent more than $91 million this year in lobbying for the bill to be passed. In an open letter, Disney, News Corp, the NFL, Time Warner, Sony and Viacom wrote “Every day, internet criminals use illegal foreign websites to steal from New York companies and hard-working Americans. These illegal foreign websites are destroying American jobs and causing billions in lost revenue.”

On the other side is the tech world. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Arriana Huffington, Google’s Sergey Brin and others wrote a joint letter warning that Sopa and Protect IP (a corresponding bill) will undermine security online, hold back innovation and give the govenment the power to censor the web in a similar fashion to China, Iran and Malaysia.

Hearings were held on the 15th and 16th December to discuss the bill.  On the Friday it was abruptly adjourned with no vote date set. However it now seems that the vote will go ahead tomorrow with the smart money on the bill being passed.


What do you think about the bill – a step in the right direction to stopping online piracy or a slippery slope to censorship?