SOPA is a US House bill 3261 (PIPA is the senate version) calling for stronger anti-piracy accountability on the internet. The original idea has some merits of course, many countries are rampant with piracy of movies and music that hurts American and other entertainment companies. I have no problem with them wanting to protect their intellectual and creative property, just as I want to protect mine.
The problem is that the bill is overkill. It allows corporations to shut down alleged violator’s websites without any due process or review from a neutral authority. That can, and you can bet will, lead to the capricious and damaging use of that power. A big multi-national corporation that just happens to not like the information and creativity on a website could easily put pressure on the host/provider, with legal backing, to close down the supposedly offensive site. Their ‘sin’ could be parody, or whistleblowing or creative sampling. Who knows. The point is that we want to protect intellectual rights. But we also want to protect creative and intellectual freedom and we can’t do that unless our laws follow guidelines that do not allow for abuse by those in power.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman