And why all the fuss?
Essentially, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” was passed in 2011 to expand the ability of the US Department of Justice and copyright holders to fight online piracy and the trafficking of counterfeit goods (like free music downloads and certain fake pharmaceuticals that urge you to seek medical attention after four hours). Sounds like a good thing, right?
Well, sure. As a copyright holder myself I’d rather not see my creative works bandied about on those Korean sites that – surprise – don’t pay royalties. However, it means much more to those in the Wide World of Web. “The Extreme’s” cite possible shutdowns of popular user-content based sites like YouTube, Twitter, and even search sites that might inadvertently post links to the offending hooligans. “The Corporate Types” fear the costs and liabilities associated with self-policing their properties. Meanwhile, this is the internet. An offender can probably be back in business in a few short hours under a different name and a new website.
As is often the case with well-meaning legislation come implementation time, the questions that should have been asked in the beginning start to pop up. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks, and perhaps, years.
So the question remains: will the government ‘clean up’ with SOPA, or will opponents ‘rope’ in SOPA? Just hope they don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater!