Internet Copyright and Piracy Bills
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) of 2011 came before the House of Representatives in October of 2010. The bill would give the U.S. Department of Justice power to take action against websites that deal in counterfeit materials or publish copyrighted intellectual property without permission. The actions could include barring such websites from advertising networks, payment facilitators (like PayPal), search engine results, or Internet service providers. The bill is currently being reviewed in the House Judiciary Committee, and the Senate is considering a similar bill entitled Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft Intellectual Property Act (Protect-IP).
Student Handout (PDF)
Resources from the Bill of Rights Institute:
- Piracy Act no easy sell in House, Politico
- SOPA, controversial online piracy bill, gains support as lobbying intensifies, Washington Post
- Lawmakers Say They Will Consider Changes to Internet Piracy Bill to Address Concerns, FOX News
- Congressman blasts Google’s stance on piracy bill, MSNBC
- Internet giants oppose Leahy piracy bill, Burlington Free Press
- Big guns take aim at Web piracy, LA Times
Questions to consider:
1). What is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)?
2). According to the opponents of SOPA and Protect-IP, what are the constitutional implications of SOPA and Protect-IP?
2a). Which Articles and/or Amendments deal with issues related to these implications?
2b). Why would major Internet companies like Google and Facebook be against SOPA and Protect-IP?
3). What arguments are made by proponents of SOPA and Protect-IP in favor of the law?
3a). How do SOPA and Protect-IP propose to remedy these issues?
4). Which arguments do you find most persuasive, and why?
5). Do you think the bill(s) could be modified in order to elicit a compromise between the two sides? What compromises do you think could be made?
6). How could acts like SOPA and Protect-IP impact other companies, schools, and government agencies? How could the bill, if it becomes law, affect you?