I’ve read the actual bill and I have to say this to Congress: if you have to define “including” as “including, but not limited to”, it’s time to give up and go home.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is designed to prevent American based sites from doing business with foreign based sites that violate US copyrights. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. Most of us here are writers and would hate to have copies of our books/stories/whatever passed around without us getting compensation.
However, the reach granted by this bill is ridiculous. It requires that internet providers block websites suspected—that’s all, just suspected—of infringement, basically cutting them off from the rest of the internet. People can claim all they want that only illegal portions of the site will be blocked; that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still within the Attorney General’s power to block anything he wants for being “suspected.” In fact, the reason SOPA was drafted was because it believed the powers of the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) weren’t broad enough. This is purposely creating an internet kill switch.
Interesting that the strongest supporters of it are also the wealthiest. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have all thrown their support behind the bill. And by “support” I mean the millions of dollars they make that is miraculously untouched by all the pirates. And by “behind the bill” I mean donations made to the campaign of the bill’s drafter.
Because it’s not like corporations ever exploit loopholes they’ve created by donating large sums of money to politicians in order to foster a business environment that is favorable to them and oppressive to companies with less capital to peddle for influence.
Currently, PIPA has been postponed indefinitely (good). Although also postponed, SOPA may not be dead yet. They may just be figuring out some way to make small changes to get more approval without nerfing the power. So remain vigilant, and if you’re not in the US, keep an eye out for any similar legislation in your own country. The internet should always remain free.