That sentence stands well alone. It does not mean that I am opposed to fair use. If you are not familiar with the fair use of copyright materials, please spend some time perusing the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society Fair Use Project.
All of that being said, the music and movie industries have been endeavoring to prevent piracy of their wares for a long time. In principle I agree with their goals. In practice, they have been a nightmare for too many innocent people. At the front of this battle has been the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The latest round in attempting to curtail piracy is known as SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. This lengthy bill is frightening and could threaten blogs like Pedantic Political Ponderings that are not what one usually thinks of in terms of piracy.
The reason that this blog could be in trouble is that the bill gives the Attorney General of the United States and the courts the power to block and even shut down sites based on allegations of copyright violation. The following is from the SOPA summary at Thomas.
Stop Online Piracy Act - Authorizes the Attorney General (AG) to seek a court order against a U.S.-directed foreign Internet site committing or facilitating online piracy to require the owner, operator, or domain name registrant, or the site or domain name itself if such persons are unable to be found, to cease and desist further activities constituting specified intellectual property offenses under the federal criminal code including criminal copyright infringement, unauthorized fixation and trafficking of sound recordings or videos of live musical performances, the recording of exhibited motion pictures, or trafficking in counterfeit labels, goods, or services.
Sets forth an additional two-step process that allows an intellectual property right holder harmed by a U.S.-directed site dedicated to infringement, or a site promoted or used for infringement under certain circumstances, to first provide a written notification identifying the site to related payment network providers and Internet advertising services requiring such entities to forward the notification and suspend their services to such an identified site unless the site's owner, operator, or domain name registrant, upon receiving the forwarded notification, provides a counter notification explaining that it is not dedicated to engaging in specified violations. Authorizes the right holder to then commence an action for limited injunctive relief against the owner, operator, or domain name registrant, or against the site or domain name itself if such persons are unable to be found, if: (1) such a counter notification is provided (and, if it is a foreign site, includes consent to U.S. jurisdiction to adjudicate whether the site is dedicated to such violations), or (2) a payment network provider or Internet advertising service fails to suspend its services in the absence of such a counter notification.Taken to its extreme, this could force Google and thus Blogger and Blogspot, to shut down. It is because of this extreme possibility that I titled this post SOPA Overreach. It goes too far.
Fortunately there are legislators who are opposing SOPA. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has already spoken out against this legislation.
"I'm still reviewing the legislation, but from what I've already read, this would mean the end of the Internet as we know it," Lofgren told CNET.Senator Ron Wyden is threatening a filibuster. If you sign a petition at Stop Censorship, he will read your name into the Congressional Record as part of his filibuster.
If you want to read more (as if I haven't already provided links to too much material to read in one sitting), there is an excellent article at TechDirt projecting "The Great Firewall of America." The Washington Post reports how several campaigns to protect the Internet are going viral. Or you can just enjoy the web while it is still around.
24 November 2011 Update: The folks at Fight For the Future have put together an interesting video.
18 December 2011, FollowUp 1.
20 January 2012, FollowUp 2.
21 January 2012, FollowUp 3.