Wikipedia sees this as such a threat to the internet and business as a whole that they decided to shut down for one day. January 18th, 2012. In addition to Wikipedia, many other websites are doing the same. Here are some examples of sites you visit daily: Google (article), Facebook (article), and Amazon (article) will also be joining this protest.
What is SOPA and how does it work?
- Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers from resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos.
- Order search engines like Google to modify search results to exclude foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
- Order payment providers like PayPal to shut down the payment accounts of foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
- Order ad services like Google’s AdSense to refuse any ads or payment from foreign sites that host illegally copied content.
(These rules don’t apply to domains that end in .com, .net, and .org, which fall under US law — the government has been seizing US domains used for piracy since 2010, and just seized 150 domains last month.)
That’s just the first part. SOPA section 103 and PIPA section 4 require payment processors and ad networks to shut down accounts if they receive the right kind of letter from a copyright owner — a system modeled on the heavily criticized notice-and-takedown provisions of the current Digital Millenium Copyright Act that requires a service like YouTube to pull down infringing content after the copyright owner complains. That system has been abused on occasion, but it ultimately works because it allows YouTube to avoid direct responsibility for the actions of its users — it would have been otherwise sued out of existence.
There’s no such balance of interests for the payment processors or ad networks under SOPA or PIPA: they simply have to block their accounts within five days of getting a letter, unless their accused customer writes back with a letter promising to come to a US court. A site like YouTube would remain protected under copyright law, but become extremely vulnerable to having its finances choked off by overzealous copyright owners under SOPA — imposing a huge additional cost on new startups that host user content and effectively undoing the flawed but effective protections for those services currently in copyright law.
Read the rest of the article at http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/22/2648219/stop-online-piracy-act-sopa-what-is-it