Stop Online Piracy Act: What Does SOPA Mean For Businesses?

We reported earlier this month on SOPA: the Stop Online Piracy Act, currently being considered in the House of Representatives, and its Senate equivalent, the Protect IP Act (also known as the E-PARASITE Act, just to add to the confusion). 

Critics of the proposed legislation (which now include the European Union) may be gaining the upper hand (see Online Piracy Act Dead? Nancy Pelosi, Darrell Issa Both Come Out Against). But the battle is far from over, and prudent companies should begin to consider how an eventual passage of the law would change the way they do business. A preliminary perspective: 

1. Copyright Owners Would Have More Tools for Stopping Infringement:

“If passed, this legislation will directly impact a copyright owner’s remedies in enforcing his or her copyright. Foreign websites hosting copyrighted materials will be most affected. Copyright owners should be aware of remedies for online copyright infringement and should seek experienced counsel to help navigate the legal implications.” (From SOPA Moves to House Committee with Modifications by Scott & Scott, LLP) 

2. The Burden of Enforcement Would Shift to Companies Doing Business on the Web:

“The proposed legislation would allow the attorney general and private parties to shut down websites that infringe on intellectual property rights. The legislation would allow purportedly aggrieved parties to go to court and obtain an order that would permit them to compel search engines, advertisers and financial institutions to cease support for (and block access to) a site that is deemed to be ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’” (From Thoughts on PROTECT IP Act by Sands Anderson PC) 

3. ISPs and Others that Play by the Rules Would be Immune from Liability:

“Internet service providers that voluntarily block websites based on copyright-related claims would enjoy safe harbor under SOPA from certain claims related to those actions. PayPal notably has refused to work in the past with sites suspected of copyright infringement.” (From Stop Online Piracy Act Introduced in House to Combat Copyright Infringement by Scott & Scott, LLP) 

For additional background, see: SOPA? E-PARASITE Act? Whatever It’s Called, Here’s A Primer on the Latest in Protect IP 

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