The Internet is one of the greatest advancements in human history. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that the Stop Online Piracy Act could diminish not only the Internet but modern civilization. I’ll be linking to different people’s opinions on the bill the rest of the day and this week.
Here are some key points:
Safe harbor, the provision that protects ISPs and websites such as YouTube from being liable for what users do on their networks and sites, would be eroded. You can post copyrighted material to YouTube, but it’s not the purpose of the site, and Google has tools built in to allow those infringing submissions to be taken down. Google is currently not legally liable that some users don’t follow copyright law. That could change under this new law.
Court orders from the Department of Justice could stop search engines from linking to supposed infringing sites.
Internet service providers could be asked to block their users from accessing black listed sites.
Any ISP, ad network, search engine, payment processor, domain registrar, etc that takes voluntary action against a supposed infringing site will be given legal immunity. This means there are no penalties for false positives. There is no incentive for being overzealous.
This is nothing like the Internet that we all know and love.
For more information, I strongly suggest checking out what the EFF has to say about SOPA. They have a lot of different posts about the act, so search around.