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Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Written By Ashley on Monday, January 23, 2012 | 7:08 AM

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

The Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT iPhone Act Focus on Foreign Criminal Websites House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R.3261), which targets foreign criminal websites that steal regional jobs, harm consumers, thwart  innovation and creativity, and undermine the Internet marketplace. The legislation currently has 32 total supporters.
 Despite the delay in the House Judiciary Committee markup, it is expected to pass the committee with overwhelming bipartisan support. Similar legislation, the PROTECT iPhone Act (S.968), has already cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with unanimous support.
 It is sponsored by Chairman Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member Chuck Grassley and 38 other senators. It is scheduled for its first procedural vote in the Senate on January 24.
Millions of jobs depend on state’s ability to protect intellectual property. Whether it’s a trusted consumer good or the latest blockbuster movie, when nation-made products are counterfeited or stolen it means less wages and benefits for workers today – and less to invest in creating jobs tomorrow. Illegitimate sites are those websites which steal the intellectual property through trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy. They sell counterfeit products like shoes, handbags, and even fake prescription drugs.
They also offer illicit copies of digital content like movies, software, music, and books. Many rogue sites appear to be legitimate to unsuspecting consumers, who are duped into purchasing shoddy products or downloading illegal pirated content. Some products – such as counterfeit drugs and auto parts – pose a clear danger to consumers.
Additionally, consumers put themselves at risk of identity theft, credit card fraud, and malware by visiting and transacting with these sites. Cyber criminals do not pay taxes, they do not adhere to manufacturing standards, they do not innovate, they do not care if their products hurt people, and they do not follow the laws.

SOPA Solutions
The legislation is a reasonable approach to address the most egregious rogue websites, which will not only save jobs but also supports a stronger online marketplace. Theft is not a business model that legitimate companies should have to compete with. It provides tools to cut off foreign criminal websites from the market and worldwide consumers. 

The legislation gives the Department of Justice the power to file a civil action against rogue Websites in federal court. The DOJ must prove that a site is used to commit or facilitate the commission of criminal violations punishable under global laws or is taking or has taken deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability violation of law or has taken other affirmative steps to foster infringement.
  If the court finds that a website is rogue, the court may order Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and search engines not to link or connect users to the rogue site. The court can also require payment processors and online advertising networks to cut off the flow of money to the rogue site. Websites alleged to be rogue receive due process.

 The act provides the same notice and other due process protections available in all other federal cases, giving domain name owners or site operators the right to defend themselves in court. The changes in the revised bill reflect conversations with representatives from technology companies and address technical concerns with the first draft. It clarifies that the bill applies only to foreign rogue websites.

 It removes language that would have required redirection when users try to access an unlawful site. It disallows a court from issuing an order that would harm DNS. It makes sure that service providers have the ability to determine the best method to ensure compliance and prohibits courts from imposing any additional obligations on service providers. 

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