SOPA is a proposed law in the United States House of Representatives to control piracy on the Internet. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. There is a similar proposal in the US Senate called PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act).
The next to last week of January a number of organizations shut their web sites down opposing SOPA including Wikipedia.
Basically SOPA proposes to stop copyrighted software, books and other materials from being downloaded for free by having the Internet controlling organizations remove any sites from the DNS system that either allow people to download illegal pirated materials or any sites that connect to them. DNS is how you can go to websites by a name like www.dwightwatt.com instead of a number like 192.168.3.1
There is general agreement that piracy using the Internet is a problem. However many of the sites that have pirated materials are either located outside of the US or distributed to lots of computers so not practical for the US government to shut down. The use of a central spot to store these materials and download from in the US basically stopped long ago. Trying to find a way to stop the piracy is a problem.
With this proposed law if site A in Bulgaria is allowing people to download materials then a complaint could be filed with US government and the government would pull from DNS in US. The problem with this is that with way written if you post a copyrighted video by me on youtube and I complain they will shut youtube down on DNS fully.
The law would allow them to go one step further and shut down any sites that hav a link to the site that had illegal material. So to take my example one step further they could then shut my site down on DNS for having links to youtube on it (I do to some videos I did) and so in this example I would be shut down for someone posting something of mine on youtube illegally and me using youtube too. Youtube and others like them will remove material if complaints.
As hackers will tell you there are already ways around this so it is doubtful it will really help but the recording and movie industries have lobbied hard for it. As it stands at the end of January, Congress has delayed considering either bill for the near future.
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