U.S. Rep Lamar Smith (R-Texas), along with 12 co-sponsors, last month introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act, (H.R. 3261). The bill is meant to prevent the theft of intellectual property that’s online and in particular seeks to clamp down on foreign websites that steal content from American producers. Critics, however, say the bill amounts to Internet censorship. Here’s a look at five key provisions.
1. Many of SOPA’s provisions are aimed at foreign websites that stream or otherwise make available copyrighted content, such as movies and music, to U.S. audiences. SOPA allows the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order against such sites to block them, using technical means such as DNS filtering.
2. Online service providers, like ISPs, search engines, ad networks, and payment providers, are required to withhold services to websites that are deemed by a court to be infringing copyrights held by U.S. content producers. Further, ISPs must block U.S. Web users’ access to such sites.
3. The bill grants civil claims immunity to Web services providers for any actions they take in order to comply with the terms of the act. In other words, a website that’s been blocked by an ISP after being found to be infringing can’t turn around and sue the ISP for denial of service or breach of contract.
4. SOPA takes specific aim at purveyors of online pharmaceuticals that sell drugs to individuals without a prescription. It authorizes ISPs and other Web services providers to withhold services to such sites, many of which operate from India and Canada.
5. SOPA requires the secretary of state and secretary of commerce to appoint intellectual property attaches to all embassies in foreign countries. Part of the attaches’ remit would be to work with local authorities to establish programs to cut down on intellectual property theft.
via InformationWeek Government, continued here.