One link to a webpage that “engages in, enables or facilitates” copyright infringement could be enough to have your entire website blocked by the U.S Government, if the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is passed in the U.S.
This proposed act has brought some of biggest names in the US web industry, including corporate rivals, together to lobby against its introduction.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, Mozilla, LinkedIn, Twitter, eBay, AOL, and Zynga have jointly written to the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary to express their concern at the proposed SOPA bill.
The bill, as proposed, would give the US government the ability to seize websites that are illegally distributing copyrighted material, it could also,
- Prevent users from accessing seized domains by compelling ISPs to block access,
- Prevent Credit Card companies from completing payments to such sites,
- Prevent advertising sites, such as Google Adwords, from operating on such sites,
- Prevent search engines from indexing infringing sites.
In the joint letter the organisations say that they “support the bills’ stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting.”
They go on to say,
“We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our Nation’s cybersecurity. We cannot support these bills as written and ask that you consider more targeted ways to combat foreign “rogue” websites dedicated to copyright infringement and trademark counterfeiting, while preserving the innovation and dynamism that has made the Internet such an important driver of economic growth and job creation.”
Mozilla, which is one of the most active organisations petitioning the proposed bill, likens the powers it will provide to censorship methods used in China, Iran, and Syria. According to the organisation,
“The fact is that this legislation as written won’t stop piracy. But it would pose a serious threat to social media and user generated content sites (like YouTube) across the internet. It could also undermine some of the core technical systems underlying the internet, creating new cybersecurity risks.
“As a non-profit committed to keeping the web open and accessible to all, Mozilla wants to ensure that this legislation does not jeopardize the foundational structure of the Internet.”
In a statement released on the committee’s webpage the Chairman, The Honorable Lamar Smith criticized what he called Google’s “active promotion of rogue websites” and defended the SOPA bill.
“Unfortunately, the theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.
Under current law, rogue sites that profit from selling pirated goods are often out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement agencies and operate without consequences. The Stop Online Piracy Act helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.
Protecting America’s intellectual property will help our economy, create jobs, and discourage illegal websites.”