SOPA goes for House debate Dec. 15 & what it means for you

Posted in: Government & Policy at 22/11/2011 17:24

The House Judiciary Committee chairman plans to move a hotly debated anti-piracy and counterfeiting bill for markup on Dec. 15, according to a Hill aide.

Lawmakers will then debate changes over Rep. Lamar Smith's (R-Tex.) Stop Online Piracy Act, a legislation that has pitted media companies against high-tech firms such as Google and Facebook.

A Judiciary Committee aide said Smith is "open to changes" in the bill and is in discussions with a wide range of parties who would be affected by new laws.

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How SOPA would affect you
When Rep. Lamar Smith announced the Stop Online Piracy Act last month, he knew it was going to be controversial.

But the Texas Republican probably never anticipated the broad and fierce outcry from Internet users that SOPA provoked over the last week. It was a show of public opposition to Internet-related legislation not seen since the 2003 political wrangling over implanting copy-protection technology in PCs, or perhaps even the blue ribbons appearing on Web sites in the mid-1990s in response to the Communications Decency Act.

To learn how SOPA, and its Senate cousin known as the Protect IP Act, would affect you, keep reading. CNET has compiled a list of frequently asked questions on the topic:

How the Internet Evolves to Overcome Censorship
Last week's congressional hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, drew attention to the fact that Congress has it within its power to censor the Internet. Dozens of sites across the web blacked-out their logos in opposition to the bill. Social blogging service Tumblr took it farther, redacting all content on its users' dashboards and asking them to phone their members of Congress, resulting in over 87,000 calls.

Some folks, however, are not content to leave the fate of the Internet to politics.

Several efforts are underway to rethink the domain name system (DNS) to route around the potential censorship. Last year after U.S. authorities seized dozens of domains, Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde began work on a peer-to-peer DNS not susceptible to the type of blacklisting SOPA and similar bills would mandate. Another group is trying to develop a censorship-proof top-level domain using technology based on the Bitcoin protocol. The result is the further decentralization of the Internet.

SOPA's ugly message to the world about America and internet Innovation
Imagine a country where the government is able to shut down Web sites at the slightest provocation, where elected representatives invoke fears of "overseas pirates" to defend the interests of domestic industries, and where Internet companies like Google must cave in to the demands of government censors or risk being shut down.

No, we are not talking about China, North Korea or Iran -- we are talking about the United States, where legislators in both the House and Senate are attempting to push through new anti-piracy legislation by year-end that would benefit Hollywood at the expense of Silicon Valley.

Cautious Optimism Follows SOPA Hearings: Don't Get Cocky
Crisis averted, so far. Last week's hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was stacked in favor of the Internet blacklist bill but we seem to have come out unscathed.

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