The Internet and Intellectual Property House Bill: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)/ Senate Bill: Protect IP Act (PIPA)
A pair of bills intended to prevent online piracy – theft of intellectual property – have been introduced in Congress. The Senate bill, introduced in June, is called the Protect IP Act. The companion House bill, introduced in late October, is called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. The House bill was originally introduced to deal with U.S. access to foreign websites that traffic in the unauthorized distribution of intellectual property. But it goes farther.
Both houses of Congress would have to pass the same bill, and the President would have to sign the bill, before it becomes law. This law could have a serious impact on artists and the internet.
These bills create more opportunities for the government and interested individuals to police websites – both domestic and non-domestic – engaged in activities that infringe intellectual property rights. Websites found to be dedicated to infringing activities would quickly and efficiently become inaccessible to users.
TCG supports legislation that protects artists against theft of their work. Intellectual property and artists’ proper compensation is important. At the same time, TCG unequivocally supports freedom of expression and innovation. It is a balancing act to craft legislation that includes meaningful copyright protection and yet does not threaten expression, innovation or commerce for artists online.
TCG is concerned that SOPA contains overly broad provisions and that websites and Internet Service Providers would be forced to monitor activity and that websites could be unilaterally shut down.
Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Public Knowledge, to name a few, oppose the legislation. The Motion Picture Association of America, the Songwriters Guild of America, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians support the legislation. The Future of Music Coalition is concerned with protecting copyright but believes the bill as currently drafted has too much potential for unintended consequences.
Legislation that simultaneously protects artists against the theft of their work, and yet has the potential to curb freedom of expression and innovation, is complex and not clear-cut. TCG hopes that legislation reflecting an appropriate balance between these two important concerns will be crafted.
For more information, please visit the Future of Music Coalition’s website.