Last updated: January 18, 2012 - 9:27am
A guide to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act (PIPA). Both are designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music and other products.
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. The Justice Department could seek a court order requiring U.S. Internet providers to block access to foreign pirate websites. Access could be blocked either by making it impossible for users to type a simple web address into an Internet browser to reach the site or by requiring search engines like Google to disable links to the sites. The attorney general could also seek a court order requiring credit-card processors to stop processing payments to the sites and requiring advertising networks to stop placing ads on the sites or taking ads from the pirated websites for display elsewhere. In addition, both bills would allow Hollywood studios and other content owners to take private legal action against websites that are alleged to be hosting pirated material. The legislation would allow content owners to ask a court to require credit-card companies and advertising networks to stop payments to sites allegedly hosting pirated material.
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