Long story short, SOPA seeks to punish anyone who uses copyright protected images and music in any capacity, including things for reviews or satire. The proposed law is called Stop Online Piracy Act. Ars Technica broke down what it does in this summary:
Imagine a world in which any intellectual property holder can, without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom, shut down any website’s online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments. The credit card processors and the advertising networks would be required to take quick action against the named website; only the filing of a “counter notification” by the website could get service restored.
It’s the world envisioned by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) in today’s introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the US House of Representatives. This isn’t some off-the-wall piece of legislation with no chance of passing, either; it’s the House equivalent to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act, which would officially bring Internet censorship to the US as a matter of law.
Calling its plan a “market-based system to protect US customers and prevent US funding of sites dedicated to theft of US property,” the new bill gives broad powers to private actors. Any holder of intellectual property rights could simply send a letter to ad network operators like Google and to payment processors like MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, demanding these companies cut off access to any site the IP holder names as an infringer.
The scheme is much like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) “takedown notices,” in which a copyright holder can demand some piece of content be removed from sites like YouTube with a letter. The content will be removed unless the person who posted the content objects; at that point, the copyright holder can decide if it wants to take the person to court over the issue.
Here, though, the stakes are higher. Rather than requesting the takedown of certain hosted material, intellectual property owners can go directly for the jugular: marketing and revenue for the entire site. So long as the intellectual property holders include some “specific facts” supporting their infringement claim, ad networks and payment processors will have five days to cut off contact with the website in question.
The scheme is largely targeted at foreign websites which do not recognize US law, and which therefore will often refuse to comply with takedown requests. But the potential for abuse-even inadvertent abuse-here is astonishing, given the terrifically outsized stick with which content owners can now beat on suspected infringers.
Some of the companies below are in favor of this law. Contact them to voice your displeasure. The complete list may be found here!
Plus Association: email@example.com
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP): 703-539-ASOP (2767)
American Federation of Musicians (AFM): firstname.lastname@example.org
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA): (212) 532-0800
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP): email@example.com
Americans for Tax Reform: firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States: email@example.com
Association of American Publishers (AAP): firstname.lastname@example.org
Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies: email@example.com
Association of Talent Agents (ATA): firstname.lastname@example.org
Beachbody, LLC: http://beachbody.custhelp.com/app/ask
BMG Chrysalis: email@example.com
Cengage Learning: (800) 354-9706
Christian Music Trade Association: 615-242-0303
Church Music Publishers’ Association: (615) 791-0273
Coalition Against Online Video Piracy (CAOVP): (212) 485-3452
Concerned Women for America (CWA): (202) 488-7000
Congressional Fire Services Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Alliance: email@example.com
Coty, Inc.: http://www.coty.com/#/contact_us
Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB): (703) 276-0100
Council of State Governments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Country Music Association: communications@CMAworld.com
Country Music Television: email@example.com
Covington & Burling LLP: http://www.cov.com/contactus/
Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.: email@example.com
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directors Guild of America (DGA): (310) 289-2000 or (800) 421-4173
Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.: (212) 633-4400
EMI Christian Music Group: (615) 371-4300
EMI Music Publishing: (212) 492-1200
Estée Lauder Companies: (212) 572-4200
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP): email@example.com
Go Daddy: (480) 505-8800
Gospel Music Association: firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic Artists Guild: email@example.com
Hachette Book Group: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/customer_contact-us.aspx
HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide: firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 207-7000