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SOPA: 10 Key Facts About Piracy Bill

Despite mass opposition to the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, both continue to move forward in Congress. Here's an update on what's at stake and where the bills stand.
6. Critics cry censorship.
Because SOPA and PIPA would block Internet users from seeing sites that the U.S. government--or perhaps third parties--had accused of hosting pirated content, critics of the bills have posited that the legislation could serve as a censorship weapon for copyright holders. Or as Wikipedia said on its blackout notice Wednesday, "the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet."

7. Movie studios still like the bills.
If technology companies are largely arrayed against SOPA, the same isn't true for music producers and movie studios, which continue to look to legal sanctions to increase their revenue and reduce piracy. Notably, Chris Dodd, a former senator and now the Motion Picture Association of America CEO, released a statement labeling the blackout as "a dangerous gimmick," as well as "an abuse of power" by the companies involved.

8. The White House has criticized the bills.
Over the weekend, three of the Obama administration's leading technologists issued a statement that acknowledged the need to control online piracy, but criticized SOPA and PIPA for being overly broad. "We must avoid creating new cybersecurity risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet," they said.

9. Legislative marketing, versus reality.
What do you call a bill that promises to stop online privacy, but which has been criticized by many leading technologists? Without a doubt, at one level, the proposed bills are legislators' attempt to say to constituents and donors, "Look, I proposed a bill about stopping online privacy." But will their approaches actually solve the piracy problem? Blocking websites is inelegant from a technology perspective, and thorny from a freedom-of-speech standpoint.

10. Rogue websites remain difficult to stop.
Beyond DNS filtering, how else might authorities target rogue foreign websites? As part of Operation In Our Sites, federal authorities have used court orders to seize the domain names for hundreds of sites that they determined were hosting pirated content. But there's little to stop the operators of those sites from simply transferring operations to a new domain name, or--in some cases--suing the government for wrongfully seizing their site.

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