[From the web] What Is SOPA Anyway? A Guide to Understanding the Online Piracy Bill – online.wsj.com

What Is SOPA Anyway? A Guide to Understanding the Online Piracy Bill
By AMY SCHATZ

 It will undermine free speech and due process, says one side. It will protect America’s creative class from thieves, says the other. But what’s really in the Stop Online Piracy Act? A guide:

Q: What is the purpose of the bill?

A: There are actually two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA, in the House and sister legislation called the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act, or PIPA, in the Senate. Both are designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music and other products.

Federal law enforcement has the authority to shut down U.S.-based websites that offer pirated content, but they can’t directly do the same to foreign sites like Pirate Bay. The Motion Picture Association of America, the legislation’s main backer, estimates 13% of American adults have watched illegal copies of movies or TV shows online, and it says the practice has cost media companies billions of dollars.

Websites like the Huffington Post and Boing Boing as well as teenagers on Twitter each had their own take on the SOPA protests, Zach Seward reports on digits.

MarketWatch‘s Jon Friedman on The News Hub explains why be believes Wikipedia’s 24-hour blackout, to attempt to stop Internet piracy legislation under consideration by Congress, is a terrible idea. Photo: AP

Q: How do the bills attempt to stop piracy?

A: The basic method is to stop U.S. companies from providing funding, advertising, links or other assistance to the foreign sites. The bills would give Justice Department prosecutors new powers to prevent pirate sites from getting U.S. visitors and funding.

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