Today is January 18th, SOPA protest day. If you’ve been online, opened a newspaper, or watched T.V. in the past week you’ve no doubt heard of SOPA. So why are Internet websites protesting SOPA and why is SOPA such a big deal? Let me explain.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and it’s Senate cousin the Protect IP Act (PIPA), are well intentioned, but deeply flawed, bills being debated in Congress. If passed into law, both SOPA and PIPA would give the government unprecedented power to censor the internet and arbitrarily shut down websites without due process.
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.
The bill grants law enforcement the ability to completely shut down any website, be it foreign or domestic, using DNS filtering without due process. In short, they could force ISPs (Internet service providers) to block your access to websites and even remove them from search engine results, thus destroying the internet-based business without giving it the opportunity to defend itself.
Why is this bad? As written, SOPA threatens current jobs, hampers innovation by creating undue risk, flouts due process, could disrupt lawful Internet service websites, and violates the privacy of file sharers.
And it gets worse from there.
From SOPA Section 101:
(23) U.S.-DIRECTED SITE- The term `U.S.-directed site’ means an Internet site or portion thereof that is used to conduct business directed to residents of the United States, or that otherwise demonstrates the existence of minimum contacts sufficient for the exercise of personal jurisdiction over the owner or operator of the Internet site consistent with the Constitution of the United States, based on relevant evidence that may include whether–
(A) the Internet site is used to provide goods or services to users located in the United States;
(B) there is evidence that the Internet site or portion thereof is intended to offer or provide–
(i) such goods and services,
(ii) access to such goods and services, or
(iii) delivery of such goods and services,
to users located in the United States;
(C) the Internet site or portion thereof does not contain reasonable measures to prevent such goods and services from being obtained in or delivered to the United States; and
SOPA is written in such a way that if any legitimate business service (or even your Internet service provider) does not monitor its customer’s file transfers for copyright violations, then that service would be complicit in the copyright infringement.
SendThisFile abhors piracy in all its forms and we respect the rights of content owners. However, SendThisFile greatly respects the privacy rights of it’s customers and seeks to provide the most convenient, secure, and reliable way to send files online. SOPA would end that.
We strongly encourage our customers to join us in supporting companies, U.S. Representatives, and U.S. Senators that oppose SOPA.