The US Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is more than just the latest skirmish in the battle against online copyright infringement. It's another episode in the war on the internet itself.
SOPA, also known as HR3261, was introduced into the US House of Representatives on 26 October, and is intended to extend the power of law enforcement and copyright owners to better combat piracy. But its opponents say that it's censorship, that it'll "break the internet" and could even cost jobs.
If SOPA becomes law, it would give the courts the power to order PayPal to stop processing transactions intended for the allegedly infringing sites, for example. Search engines could be prevented from indexing the sites, and internet service providers prevented from connecting to them.
On this week's Patch Monday podcast, CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh outlines the controversy surrounding SOPA, and Crikey's Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane positions SOPA as yet another example of what amounts to a war on the internet — a war waged by governments and corporations for a variety of agendas.
"What they have in common, though, is an ability to understand or a refusal to deal with the impacts of the internet in relation to either their specific business model ... or their position of power," Keane said.
"I call these entities 'gatekeepers' because [of] what they have in common ... is that prior to the internet, in the analog era, they made a plot of money or based their power on controlling the flow of information or sitting at the nodes within the networks that used to exist."
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