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What is SOPA? Why Should I Care?


In case you have been living under a rock I wanted to bring you up to date on some very important developments in the United States. You might be unaware but quite a few of the internets largest sites are going dark to protest SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and its sister bill PIPA (Protect IP Act) today including Wikipedia and Reddit. These new laws are making their way through Congress in the US and are intended to protect against piracy. The problem is that these flawed laws could destroy the internet as we know it.

I usually avoid anything political on BerryReview but both of these laws offer intellectual property owners like record labels and movie studios way too much unchecked power on the internet. It includes provisions that allow companies to demand that Google or Bing remove a website from search results, force Visa or PayPal to not allow them to receive payments, stop advertising services, and until recently force ISP’s to block the websites domain name through DNS. (Thankfully that last provision DNS provision was recently taken out)

While some may think that does not sound all that bad if it was a judge or jury making that decision but there is no such thing. SOPA originally wanted IP owners to simply send a notice based on “Good faith” that the site was infringing and then it would have to be blacklisted within 5 days. This has changed through the many revision but mostly remains the same. The DNS blacklisting provision was also taken out this week because it would have simply created our own Great Firewall of America to mimic the Chinese censorship.

All in all both SOPA and PIPA are the equivalent of giving IP owners a sledgehammer to squash a bug as a sort of Carte blanche situation. It has the potential to destroy the internet ranging from huge sites like YouTube to your own Twitter feed. It would even change how BerryReview runs and subject us to constant fears of censorship. Content creators like the MPAA are claiming that these laws are needed to protect US jobs and lost revenue but scope of their claims repeatedly don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Either way we highly recommend you read up on SOPA and PIPA so you are informed about what the MPAA and RIAA are trying to shove down our throats through Congress. This is a global issue since America starting to censor the internet can lead to ramifications around the world. If you live in the US please make sure to contact your representatives to tell them how you feel about SOPA and PIPA before it is too late.

As the saying goes ”Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.” Make sure you are well armed with knowledge!

PS: The irony of this all is that the MPAA thinks that Wikipedia and others going dark to protest SOPA is an abuse of power when the MPAA is essentially promoting censorship…

14 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. The problem with our Congress is that even if SOPA doesn’t work, they’ll just tack it on (quite literally staple it on) to the back of the “Stop child pornography” law that hasn’t been ‘finished’ yet. No congressman/woman would dare vote against that, simply because of the name, as it would be political suicide.

    This is very similar to the reason Obama signed the NDAA law a few weeks ago, because it was packaged with other, neccessary extensions/ laws, and he was forced into a corner to choose the lesser of two evils, so to speak.

  2. Considering most of the really technical stuff on Wikipedia is just stolen from other encyclopedias it’s kind of ironic that they are leading the charge.

    This is a time for them to stand in the corner with a red face shuffling their feet.

  3. Texasguy, it’s that whole rider thing that needs to stop. I can’t imagine how many things they have managed to slip thru by adding them to something nobody would dare vote against.

    • Well like I brought up in my original post, the NDAA was a good example. Obama signed it because it was neccessary for defense funding, but he had “serious reservations” about the sections which allowed for unlawful and indefinite detention of US Citizens.

  4. “(1) DEDICATED TO THEFT OF U.S. PROPERTY- An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if–
    (A) it is an Internet site, or a portion thereof, that is a U.S.-directed site and is used by users within the United States; and
    (B) either–
    (i) the U.S.-directed site is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of, has only limited purpose or use other than, or is marketed by its operator or another acting in concert with that operator for use in, offering goods or services in a manner that engages in, enables, or facilitates–
    (I) a violation of section 501 of title 17, United States Code;
    (II) a violation of section 1201 of title 17, United States Code; or
    (III) the sale, distribution, or promotion of goods, services, or materials bearing a counterfeit mark, as that term is defined in section 34(d) of the Lanham Act or section 2320 of title 18, United States Code; or
    (ii) the operator of the U.S.-directed site–
    (I) is taking, or has taken, deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of the U.S.-directed site to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 or 1201 of title 17, United States Code; or
    (II) operates the U.S.-directed site with the object of promoting, or has promoted, its use to carry out acts that constitute a violation of section 501 or 1201 of title 17, United States Code, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement.”
    BerryReview (or any other legitimate site) isn’t included in such a definition.

    • You should read some of the analysis of what they are trying to hide in all that legalese. The best one so far is Mashable:

      “Wow, now there’s a chunk of legalese that’ll make your eyes gloss over. Let’s cut straight to the nasty bits.

      An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if [a portion of the site is US-directed] and is used by users within the United States and is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables or facilitates [copyright violation or circumvention of copyright protection measures].

      Still doesn’t sound that bad, but consider this: Any site that allows users to post content is “primarily designed for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables copyright violation.” The site doesn’t have to be clearly designed for the purpose of copyright violation; it only has to provide functionality that can be used to enable copyright violation.

      This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. Simply providing a feature that would make it possible for someone to commit copyright infringement or circumvention (see: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is enough to get your entire site branded as an infringing site.

      Furthermore, you may be painted as infringing if you, the site owner, “take deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of…the site to carry out acts [of copyright infringement or circumvention].” This means if you deliberately decide that it’s not cost-effective to screen every piece of content and determine whether or not it is copyright-free before it is posted to your site (whether there is infringing content on your site or not), then you are labeled as an “Internet site…dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” Simply the act of not actively screening every piece of content makes you a criminal under SOPA.”

      Another solid analysis:

  5. Maybe the bill should be a bit clearer, but it’s a good idea – block funding and advertising to sites dedicated to piracy.
    I know we all like our stolen movies and music, but unless we want to drop copyright law entirely we should enforce the law.
    FYI – there is a requirement to attempt to contact the site owner (got a contact us button? Of course you do) and there is a mandatory court hearing.

    If you have a better suggestion for stopping piracy than blocking funding and advertising I’d love to hear it.

    • So, under SOPA you could get 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song,… Hmmm, one year more than the doctor who killed him.


    • Under SOPA you do NOT have to have a court hearing. All someone has to do is notify a website that they BELIEVE they are violating XXXXXXXX. The notified website has five days to shut itself down or challenge the notification in court. Basically all someone has to do is accuse a website and that website either has to shutdown or lawyer up in 5 days. No court appearance needed for the accuser to shut you down or cause you massive legal fees.

      Hope that makes you see why SOPA is not fair in the least bit.

  6. (Wishing I had logged in so I could have amended my last post)

  7. I agree with you that their intentions are not the problem. The problem is their execution. In fact there is actually a law that does EXACTLY what you suggest called OPEN without attempting to break the internet as we know it. Though even the creators of those laws admit that blocking funding and advertising is a flawed and futile approach. You can read more about it at:

    I truly try to stay away from politics as often as I can but this is one of those cases where you see the car wreck at the end of the tunnel. First of all the numbers of jobs and cost of piracy the MPAA and RIAA are quoting are mostly bogus and unsubstantiated. The MPAA and RIAA are notorious for abusing any legal power they have ever been given. The purpose of copyright law is actually intended to benefit the public not copyright holder. It was considered a necessary evil by the founders to promote work filtering into the public domain. Giving IP owners unconscionable powers in censoring the internet to protect these rights is simply going too far to protect their rights.

    If you want a good explanation about what I mean in terms of the lack of contact requirements read the same article I mentioned before
    at the point where it says “So, We’re All Infringing, Now What?”

  8. This is the DUMBEST thing I have ever heard.

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