A Former Videgame Developer's view on Tech + Media + Fine Arts

Stop Online Piracy Act

on December 23, 2011

Hey guys thanks for tuning in – hope holiday preparations are proceeding smoothly!

The Situation

So by now I think everybody probably heard at least a little bit about SOPA, or the Stop Online Pirate Act, a bill introduced by House Representative Lamar Smith (R- TX), a former ranch manager whose congressional district spans the farmlands between San Antonio and Austin accoding to CNET writer Declan McCullagh.

But that’s okay! This is modern day America and politicians are not expected to know everything about the legislation they are passing. Essentially the key provisions within Stop Online Piracy does is make a whole lot easier for copyright holders like NBC or Disney to sue websites like Youtube or Google, and gives the U.S. government the right to create and enforce a blacklist of online sites

The bill has rapidly polarized the EMT sectors, all traditionally left-leaning and strong supporters of democrats. Content producers like NBC, Time Warner, as well as firms with large brand equities like NBA, Nike, Pfizer and L’Oreal are proponents. They are joined by institutions across  the political spectrum, namely the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, MPAA, RIAA and the AFL-CIO

Opponents are predictably internet firms whose revenues are dependent upon ad spend and content circulation – google, facebook, yahoo, ebay. They are joined by the American Heritage Foundation, a traditionally right-leaning institution, as well as the Center for Democracy and Technology, which keeps a list of companies and individuals with concerns for SOPA

Proponents of the bill argues that it will create jobs by drastically reducing enforcement costs to copyright holders, and points to diversity of industry proponents as an indication of the widespread problem of intellectual property rights infringement.

Opponents argue that the bill will drastically alter the operation of the internet, leading to reductions in GDP (3.4% comes from internet/e-commerce), and a catastrophic effect in terms of investments into the sector. On November 16 Booz & Company released a survey of 200 venture capitalist indicating most will stop investing in internet/digital media if the SOPA bill becomes law.

In addition, grass roots opposition to the bill has been both vocal and numerous. Today GoDaddy, a domain provider, was forced by public pressure to pull its support of SOPA.

Currently more than 31 House Representatives are currently in support of the bill, while prominent House detractors include Nancy Pelosi, Darrell Issa and Ron Paul.

Now What

The house judiciary committee held a hearing for the initial SOPA bill in November 16, after which it was submitted for mark up. The committee  will resume debate on the bill when the House comes back from winter recess, so stay tuned!

In the mean time, here is a chart from Maplight that might very well do a better job of explaining why a ranch manager from Texas would be interested in protecting consumers from online piracy…

Courtesy of

And here is another chart from an article in Politico

Courtesy of Politico


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