Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) Day of Protest

Stop Online Piracy ActTo-day a day of protest was organized by opponents to the Stop Online Piracy Act or Bill H.R. 3261. The United States’ Federal Government Stop Piracy Act is proposed to “protect US customers and prevent the support of foreign infringing sites.” If it becomes law it will give US law enforcement power along with copyright holders to combat the sale of counterfeit goods on the internet. They will be able to go after sites said to encourage or to enable breaches of copyright.While this bill does not impact directly on online gaming sites they will however support the day of protest. Online gaming sites have been adversely affected by a US law banning online gaming however this may be about to change as the United States Department of Justice has recently altered its policy on online gambling. (See article “Change in Policy on Online Gaming by the United States Department of Justice“.)Wikipedia and other sites blacked out to-day and only displayed information on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on their web pages. Google did not black out but did display a black background with the words “Stop Online Piracy”. Other internet companies did not black out completely as the cost in loss of income would have been too great. Along with Wikipedia, many companies including Google, Facebook, Mozilla, Twitter, You Tube and Yahoo oppose this bill as they fear it will completely change the internet. Opponents of the bill claim it is censorship on the web, that it violates the Frist Amendment and that it will negatively impact on ecommerce if customers are afraid of using any foreign based websites.

On the other hand those who support the bill claim that the bill will actually promote US jobs by protecting US intellectual property. If the bill were to become law it would mean that a court order could block advertisers, search engines and internet service providers who deal with a site that breaks the law. The penalty could be as much as 5 years in prison for sites that repeatedly offend.

Since the bill was introduced in October 2011 there have been various protests including petitions and boycotts leading up to to-day’s internet sites blackout. Among protestors’ fears are that this bill could close down the internet as we know it now and also that online companies will leave the United States and so reduce jobs.

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