SOPA, PIPA Bills Pit Piracy Controls Against Free Speech

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In our internet age it’s something we so take for granted — the open and easy access to both information and entertainment.

But lawyers representing the entertainment industry say the illegal downloading of copyrighted property is robbing intellectual property owners of billions of dollars.

“Overwhelmingly, the supporters of the bills are the motion picture and music industries,” said University of Minnesota law professor William McGeveran.

Professor McGeveran said the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its senate counterpart, Protect IP Act (PIPA) are intended to crack down on rogue websites outside U.S. borders. Those sites profit by taking copyrighted and protected materials like movies and music and putting them up for download worldwide.

“The people who own the content are concerned that they want extra tools, particularly for sites off-shore in other countries, that we don’t have U.S. jurisdiction over them,” he said.

But it’s the way they’d approach the crackdown that has web-based companies like Wikipedia and others so upset that they promise to go dark for 24 hours in protest.

That’s because in an effort to outlaw these infringing “rogue websites,” other internet providers and domestic websites doing business with them could be held liable and subject to stiff fines.

While the law’s intent is to protect against online piracy, the way the bills are written could result in unintended censorship and abuse.

“I think a lot of people see this as a giant sledgehammer designed to deal with what’s really a specific and limited problem,” said University of Minnesota media ethics and law professor, Jane Kirtley.

President Obama and some in Congress are already second guessing the two proposed pieces of legislation. The President has gone so far as to ask for alternative measures to be drafted that would be more amenable to internet companies.

“It’s fair to say that the holders of copyrighted materials have the ability to protect that,” Professor Kirtley said. “This is an attempt to deal with what’s truly an international problem in a way that I think will disproportionately impact sites here in the U.S.”

More from Bill Hudson
  • millionaires billionaires

    Talk of lack of transparency. CBS Corporation which owns WCCO-TV is against S.O.P.A.!

    Here is a link to a list of people an organizations against an for S.O.P.A. …

    The Wikipedia list will not be available as of midnight tonight as WikiPedia protests S.O.P.A. Also a reminder Amy Amy Klobuchar. is for S.O.P.A.

  • millionaires billionaires

    Excuse me, CBS Corporation WCCO-tv is for S.OP.A..

  • Lisa

    Why is this story buried? This legislation would destroy the Internet as we know it, ultimately affecting each and every one of us. Please move it to the front page where others can see it.

  • wha


  • AntiTeabagger

    Because big brother wants to control everything you do. This should be shot down under freedom of speech!

  • Exp

    Actually, I’m surprised that the CBS big-wigs even allowed this article to be published seeing as how pro-SOPA they are. If Mr. Hudson “suddenly leaves the station” we’ll know they weren’t happy. It’s amazing how un-free our free press is.

    Our best recourse in our “democracy” to defeat something like this is for everyone to stop going to Movies, stop buying movies and music, and turn off non-news network TV for a month. Once the bottom line of the Media corps start taking it in the shorts, then they’ll listen. Until then, The People might as well be yelling at brick walls, considering how much money the media industry is throwing at lobbyists.

  • Rick Ellis

    Despite a bit of the hysteria shown in this thread, I don’t see WCCO as part of some big-media conspiracy. But this is an important issue, which is why our web site will be dark all day Wednesday as part of the protest.

  • Ronski

    SOPA and PIPPA are just en excuse for big business and the government to stifle free speech and innovation. If they can’t control and profit from it, they want to kill it. Its all about money in the end. Free speech and free thought are the most dangerous ideas to any government or business because they might cause people to question their authority and right to govern or create substandard products that are sold for incredible profits.

  • See BS

    We already saw a police officer use the Patriot Act to find the identity of someone who made a comment about her on a website.

    of course this law will be abused — soon you won’t be able to voice and opinion because a corporation owns the idea or thought because someone copywrited the idea.

    Thought crime laws

  • tedjones

    If this passes boycott hollywood, right now i will not watch anything thats not on the web. i will never buy a movie or music if this passes everyone should do the same.

  • mark

    Welcome to the United States of China

  • Industry

    Maybe they won’t turn Wikopedia back on! What a bunch of dumb asses who read Wikopedia. That’;s how an idiot forklift driver like Kevin builds their false self confidence.

  • Better for everyone

    Sites like craigslist need to be shut down, nothing but trouble.
    I support SOPA & PIPA.

    • Chris

      Nice try Lamar Smith.

  • hunnybear18

    For PIPA, Franken and Klobuchar are both co-sponsors.

  • hunnybear18

    Franken and Klobuchar are co-sponsors of PIPA

  • 1imaginarygirl

    I think it’s funny that the government actually thinks this will stop piracy.

  • Exp

    It won’t stop piracy. Not in the slightest. I don’t condone piracy, but this law basically is a tactical nuke used to swat bugs. I also find it funny that none of these execs that pushed the law anywhere have actually talked about lowering the price of their goods so that people are more inclined to want to buy them instead of pirating them. So much for “free market” system. More like, “You’re going to pay our prices or you’ll go to jail!”

    Those that will pirate will just use name servers that are outside the U.S., as that is what these bills were written to stop. The bill also tries to extend the reach of the U.S. government laws beyond its borders, which is someplace we have no place trying to control. It’s liable to be a diplomatic nightmare for us, but the bought -off politicos just keep on chugging, writing laws to control something they literally have no understanding of. It took how many months for them to finally admit that “oh, gee, we might not have understood the system we’re trying to control when we wrote the bill…”?? Oooops…

  • Martha

    Does craigslist have to be blocked out?

  • Rufus Larkin

    The Internet needs more specialized access patterns to sites, so that a person not always has to “sign in” and give their soul away.

  • See BS

    Maybe Hollywood will make money again when they stop recycling the same old stories with different actors.

    Unrealistic car chases are really boring, like the same old cop and lawyer TV shows on Networks.

  • Citizen

    I am mystified as to why anyone would be surprised that this is happening. Money talks, and Hollywood and the entertainment industry has big money. The uncensored Internet has allowed the “everyday common man” to express his views uncensored and unfettered. Security, piracy, and fear are being used to shut us all up and WILL BE used for ever-increasing censorship. There is an online petition that can be signed to pull this bill.

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