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In January, 2012, both PIPA and SOPA were shelved.
Read about how your work to fight these bills paid off!
The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, S.968, or the PROTECT IP Act, also known as PIPA, would have allowed the Attorney General to require domain name registries to "suspend operation of, and lock, the domain name" of a website the DoJ determines to be "dedicated to infringing activity."
On October 26, 2011, a similar bill was introduced in the House. As introduced, H.R. 3261, The "Stop Online Piracy Act", or SOPA, was even worse than its Senate cousin.
Both bills were shelved in January, 2012, following a massive outpouring of opposition to this severely misguided legislation that would have created new security risks, threatened our best technology companies, and legitimized Internet censorship overseas.
Public Knowledge's Position
There are a number of serious issues with the way PIPA and SOPA try to tackle the legitimate concern of websites that infringe copyrights and trademarks. Left unresolved, these issues could harm consumers, educational institutions, innovative technologies, economic growth and global Internet freedom.
How These Bills Seriously Screw with the Internet
Not only would interference with the Domain Name System (DNS) be ineffective, but it also runs contrary to the US government's commitment to advancing a single, global Internet. Non-democratic regimes could seize on the precedent to justify similar measures that would hinder online freedom of expression and repress dissenting voices. This mode of DNS blocking also threatens to make domestic networks and users more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and identity theft as users migrate to offshore DNS providers not subject to the law's provisions.
How We Got Here
The effort to create rogue website legislation started with the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeiting Act", or "COICA", introduced by Senator Leahy in September 2010.
More on PIPA & SOPA
- No one favors the theft of intellectual property. Voting against these bills is not a vote in favor of online piracy; no entity opposing these bills endorses content piracy in any way shape or form.
- They sweep in every site that includes links, not just the “worst of the worst.” PIPA applies to "information location tools," a comically over-broad legal concept that includes things such as a "directory, index, reference, pointer, or hypertext link." Policing every link on a site is an impossible burden for even the best intentioned site.
- They include a private right of action with few protections from abuse. If someone can convince a judge that a site is vaguely “dedicated to infringing activities,” they can cut the site off from all sources of funding. That means sites can be killed without ever being proven to violate copyright.
- PIPA removes innovators’ ability to fight back when incumbents threaten intermediaries. Intermediaries know that if they cut off new sites just because someone like the MPAA asks them to, their now-former customers will sue them. PIPA grants intermediaries immunity for complying with “informal” (read: not reviewed by a court) requests to cut off sites that big content does not like.
- DNS blocking sanctions government interference with the internet, making the internet more censored, akin to that of China and Syria. Non-democratic regimes could seize on the precedent to justify similar measures that would hinder online freedom of expression and repress dissenting voices.
- A bi-partisan, compromise bill already exists. The OPEN Act attacks the online piracy problem by focusing carefully on true bad actors. Once bad actors are identified, it takes the “follow the money” approach of cutting them off from payment and advertising networks, thus starving them of their financial lifeblood.
For more information
- Read our analyses on the PK policy blog:
- Fake Promises to Vote No on SOPA and PIPA
- PIPA/SOPA Victory—End to the Damn Torpedoes—What Happens Now
- Online Blackouts and Outrage Online: Protest Against PIPA and SOPA
- PIPA/SOPA State of Play
- Resetting PIPA
- White House Responds to Petition Against SOPA/PIPA
- Senator Leahy's Promise to "Fix" PIPA Falls Short
- PIPA's January 24th Vote and How a Filibuster Works
- PIPA and SOPA: Compare and Contrast
- Impressions on the SOPA Markup
- It worked for China, why not the US?
- Managers Amendment of SOPA Doesn't Fix What's Ailing this Bill
- Playing with Numbers: Why SOPA Still Won't Solve Internet Piracy
- PIPA v SOPA
- Competing with Free
- SOPA Hearing as Flawed as Bill Itself
- Theme Song for SOPA: 'We Are the World'
- Operation Ghost Click and the Value of DNSSEC
- What Warner's Recklessness Says About SOPA
- SOPA: Immunity for Net Neutrality Violations?
- House Version of Rogue Websites Bill Adds DMCA ByPass, Penalties for DNS Workarounds
- SOPA and Section 1201: A Frightening Combination
- Read SOPA and PIPA yourself
- Read the letters in opposition to SOPA from all 3 consumer protection groups, 13 public interest groups, 41 international human rights groups, 9 internet and technology companies, 5 prominent internet engineers. For a comprehensive list of the more than 1,000 human rights groups, small businesses, trade associations, and public interest organizations who have spoken out against PIPA and SOPA, click here.
- Read about why the New York Times and LA Times came out against PIPA as written.
- Read this letter from 100+ law professors opposing PIPA.
- Read this letter from 50 venture capitalists expressing concern with PIPA.
- Read the letter from NetCoalition concerning the Private Right of Action in PIPA.