It’s Not Over: SOPA’s Chief Sponsor Isn’t Backing Down
What’s the big idea?
SOPA and PIPA are designed to crack down on websites based offshore that peddle illegal content — think pirated Hollywood blockbusters and fake Viagra. No one disputes that that’s a worthy goal. The rub is whether it would give the government and copyright holders too much control over the Web.
Here’s how it would work: If the Justice Department or a copyright holder believed a site was directing users to pirated content, they would go to court. Depending on who’s complaining, different remedies would come into play: In some instances a judge could order an Internet service provider like Verizon to cut off access to a site. In others, a search engine like Google could be directed to delete links to an infringing site. The idea is to starve the offending sites of the web traffic that keeps them in business.
Why’s it such a big deal?
What’s happening now on the Web, the bills’ backers say, is nothing short of rampant unpoliced theft of American goods. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, so-called “rogue” sites draw hundreds of millions of clicks a year — at a huge toll to the American economy. The business lobby cites research by brand protection firm MarkMonitor estimating that illegal sites cost legitimate businesses more than $130 billion in revenue annually.
Enter SOPA and PIPA.