Sunday, January 08, 2012
SOPA: The New Way to Stop the Feed
Edited on: Sunday, January 08, 2012 1:24 PM
Categories: Copyright, Internet, Legislation
Photo by: donkeyhotey
Introduced in October, the Stop Internet Piracy Act ("SOPA") is the House of Representatives attempt to place greater restrictions on websites hosting copyright infringing material. In the Congressional hearing that have thus far been held, representatives of Hollywood and the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA") have strongly supported this bill, as it would attempt to stem the flow of copyright infringing material, especially from websites from foreign states. This controversial bill has come under fire from internet providers, including Google, Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T, specifically focused on section 102 of the proposed bill, the site blocking provision.
Section 102 of SOPA provides the courts with the power to require an internet service provider ("ISP") to block a website that is found to contain infringing material. The location of the website is not relevant to this section, as the provider can be ordered to take measures to "prevent prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site."
Some ISP's, specifically those running smaller servers, have already stated that such a blocking requirement is simply not technically feasible with their current network infrastructure. They would have to completely redesign their system in order to be able to screen access to a list of potentially thousands of sites, placing an immense financial burden on these smaller providers.
In addition to this worry, ISP are concerned at the vagueness of the requirements and responsibility that will be assigned to providers for complying with a blocking order. Proponents of the legislation state the SOPA does not have any specific technology requirements, or methodology for listing and blocking the infringing sites, so that it can be flexible. The problem is that such flexibility means that the court will be required to determine whether an ISP is complying with the spirit of the law, as there is no letter of the law to follow.
Regardless of whether such blocking should be required, potential costs from both possible legislation and network redesign will make the implementation of this legislation difficult to say the least.
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