US lawmakers introduced a bill called the Stop Piracy Online Act this week aimed at stopping online piracy and intellectual property theft. If passed, the bill will allow the government to block access to websites that are accused of piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods such as movies, games and music.
The proposed bill has gained bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and the support of the music industry and Business Software Alliance, but digital rights and free speech groups are not so supportive that alleges the new bill is, paving the way for US law enforcement to unilaterally shut down websites, including foreign sites, without due process.
The silver lining for online gamers is that this bill could potentially lead to the blocking of those annoying gold seller websites as well, but the bill raises some red flags that makes that little positive nugget so not worth it as the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) pointed out in a press release.
This bill raises serious red flags. It includes the most controversial parts of the Senate's PROTECT IP Act, but radically expands the scope. Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs. ISPs would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rightsholders allege hasn't done enough to police infringement. The bill represents a serious threat to online innovation and to legitimate online communications tools.
While the primary target of the Stop Piracy Online Act appears to be what they define as rogue foreign websites that generally are untouchable by US officials when it comes to protecting IPs, Ars Technica has an interesting article summarizing the effect that this broad-language legislation could have on the Internet as a whole and the staggering potential for abuse.
US Lawmakers have been actively trying to find a way to combat online piracy and IP theft, but each step seems to go further than the last. Earlier this year Bill S.978 (also known as the anti-streaming bill) was introduced with broad terms that would make the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a felony. The language was so broad that it could have been applied to video game streams, images and other game related content. It was met with heavy resistance.
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