If you read the paper, watch TV, listen to the radio or use the Internet, it’s been tough to avoid SOPA recently. (If you don’t, well, you’re probably hand-writing angry missives in a cabin and not reading this.) What we’ve seen thus far are two widely-popular, well-funded industries passionately going toe-to-toe with one another, with one widely-unpopular but well funded group of politicians playing referee. After some low blows, eye gouging and hair pulling, the anti-SOPA team has prevailed, at least temporarily.
Unfortunately, after listening to both sides of the debate, I’m convinced the vast majority of the debaters and their audience lacked a strong understanding of exactly what SOPA says and what its true implications would be. Because we’re dealing with powerful industries with enormous soap boxes, the majority of the “discussions” presented to the public have been severely slanted by the presenter’s personal stake in the contest. As with most heated political topics, this is great for sound-bites and overbroad, black-and-white ways of looking at things, but not so great if you actually want to understand the proposed legislation. So as any good humanitarian should do, I’m going to attempt to sum it up from a relatively-neutral legal perspective. Even if SOPA itself is no longer on the table (for now), the fight it started can give us insight into the sides’ respective concerns and the future skirmishes we’re likely to see.
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