The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has provoked a firestorm of controversy online.
Ostensibly drafted to crack down on piracy of films, music, and other items illicitly traded online, SOPA proponents like the Motion Picture Association of America argue the law will protect intellectual property. But opponents of the bill fear the legislation will effectively cripple the Internet by targeting the hosts of user-generated websites like YouTube instead of the offending uploaders; hoist huge legal uncertainties and liabilities onto websites and start-ups; and create potential security threats in the way it redirects traffic from so-called “rogue” websites.
The proposed SOPA legislation, introduced by Texas Rep.Lamar Smith, is a big deal in tech-savvy Austin. Today, members of Austin’s tech community are making the case to Sen. John Cornyn’s office that SOPA is a bad bill.
The meeting, scheduled with Cornyn's regional director Sandy Edwards, is an outgrowth of local grassroots resistance to SOPA. A call for citizens to meet with their senators on SOPA emerged out of a thread on popular link-sharing site Reddit.
The SOPA bill will be taken up again by Congress soon. In contrast to complaints earlier hearings didn’t give SOPA proper technical scrutiny, a hearing on the bill’s search-redirecting and blocking properties has been scheduled for next week.
The hearing is being held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (A companion bill to SOPA, the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA, is being considered by the House of Representatives.) It is set for Wednesday, January 18 – the same day Reddit and several other popular websites, potentially including Wikipedia, are scheduled to go offline in protest against SOPA.
This video from SOPA/PIPA opponents outlines several objections to the bill.