Don’t know if you’ve been following this story or not, but this side of the pond the whole SOPA and PIPA story has been reported, just not in a particularly mainstream sort of way. I note, this morning however that it is starting to gather a head of steam and I suspect that due in part to good old Wikipedia.

Well, if you want to know the details, I wouldn’t recommend trying to look either of them up on Wikipedia on Wednesday, because you won’t find them. In fact, if you try and look anything up on Wikipedia on Wednesday, you won’t find it.

Wiki

The reason being is that they’re “going dark” for the day in protest of both of the suggested bills.  If you want to get into the details – and I suggest that you almost certainly do as you’re clearly a user of teh Internet – then you can take a look at the following.  I’m sure Wikipedia won’t mind me reproducing thier descriptive paragraph, being as it’s not available on thier site for 24 hours.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.[2] Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.[3]

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators, such as PayPal, from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is not dedicated to infringement.[4]

Proponents of the bill allege that it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites.[5] They cite examples such as Google’s $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to buy illegal prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.[6]

Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment,[7] is Internet censorship,[8] will cripple the Internet,[9] and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions.[7][10] Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter, such as the blackout of Wikipedia on January 18, 2012.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January 2012

Puts me in mind of elements of the dreaded “Digital Economy Bill” – and we all know how well that ended – having come into force on the 8th of June 2010.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous