February 5, 2012 in slideshow
If you are unfamiliar with the SOPA controversy, this article from CNet News provides a great overview. From the article:
Q: What’s the justification for SOPA and Protect IP?
Two words: rogue sites.
That’s Hollywood’s term for Web sites that happen to be located in a nation more hospitable to copyright infringement than the United States is (in fact, the U.S. is probably the least hospitable jurisdiction in the world for such an endeavor). Because the target is offshore, a lawsuit against the owners in a U.S. court would be futile.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to the editor of The New York Times, put it this way: “Rogue Web sites that steal America’s innovative and creative products attract more than 53 billion visits a year and threaten more than 19 million American jobs.” The MPAA has a section of its Web site devoted to rogue Web sites. Jim Hood, the Democratic attorney general of Mississippi, and co-chair of a National Association of Attorneys General committee on the topic, recently likened rogue Web sites to child porn.
If the article is correct, it appears that, in general, internet providers and individuals think SOPA is a terrible idea, while businesses like it. For those who do not support the bill, the underlying question involves censorship: Will this bill infringe on free speech? To those who do support the bill, the underlying question is one of ownership: Will this bill stop people from stealing what they do not own?
There are deeper questions for each side. What do we fundamentally have the right to say? What do we fundamentally have the right to own? And when speech rights and property rights clash, which one should win?