Today Congress held hearings on the latest IP legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). We are taking part in American Censorship Day to help spread the word and stop this bill. We’ve outlined five of the most important problems with SOPA.
1. SOPA violates due process. Under SOPA, any private copyright or trademark owner can cut-off advertising and payments to any website by alleging that the operator “avoid[ed] confirming a high probability” that “a portion” of its site is being used to infringe copyrights. Advertisers and payment companies (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal) are then required to stop doing business with that site. It seems likely that content owners (or people merely claiming to be content owners) will often succeed in shutting down websites without ever going to court. The proposed legislation also gives the Attorney General and the Justice Department the power to shut down websites before they are actually judged infringing. Courts will be able to order any Internet service provider to stop recognizing an accused site immediately upon application by the Attorney General, after an ex parte hearing. By failing to guarantee the challenged websites notice or an opportunity to be heard in court before their sites are shutdown, SOPA violates due process. Read more: Letter to Congress from over 100 law professors techdirt explains that SOPA would create the Great Firewall of America.Read more » about Stop Censorship: The Problems With SOPA