SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act being proposed by the US Congress. It is an overbearing, industry sponsored piece of legislation that, in effect, holds internet culture hostage in the name of copyright.
Among its worst outcomes, websites will be held legally responsible for copyright infringement of any websites they link to — that’s right: domain names can be shut down for a single link to a website that infringes copyright.
And not only can websites be shut down for unintentional infringement, but persons can be jailed for five years for posting copyrighted work without permission.
What makes for fair copyright rules is a huge debate. But these kinds of heavy-handed and destructive powers are mean spirited, extend far beyond what they need to as a measured response to potential infringement, and ignore the importance of public culture in favour of one industry’s nervous greed.
If you’re Canadian and you’re wondering how this affects us north of the border, check out the comments made by Michael Geist.
If you’d like to learn more, here are a few good resources.
Image via zachstronaut.com.