What’s the Big Deal about SOPA?

Late last month, Texas Congressman Lamar Smith introduced H.R. 3261, more commonly known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. The goal of the bill is to provide the US Government, specifically the Attorney General, with the tools to crack down on copyright infringement and counterfeit goods. The intent of SOPA seems fair enough. Writers and musicians and other creative people spend a lot of time, effort, and money developing their work, and the internet makes it so easy to distribute that product without the initial creator getting any benefit from it. (As a few of our Persephone writers and editors learned recently, often plagiarized without even the credit of having their name on it.) Of course it comes as no surprise that groups like the RIAA, MPAA, television studios, and publishing companies would be the chief proponents of the bill; their livelihoods depend on intellectual property rights. But as with more legislation than I care to think about, SOPA comes with some pretty shady unintended consequences. Continue reading