Four Things Americans Have Learned from the SOPA Fight

Among the lessons learned: It's next to impossible to determine how much piracy hurts the economy

By SHARE

"It is as if the milkmen of the past had been creating laws that prevented the sale of refrigeration or of highways being built," said Dmitry Shapiro, founder of video-sharing site Veoh, at a forum in Washington on Tuesday.

Opponents have a laundry list of problems with the legislation. First, the acts are aimed at foreign websites, saying that U.S. domains will not be affected. But there are plenty of potential gray areas: many U.S. sites also have foreign domain names, and connecting to a U.S. site from a foreign country often means connecting through a foreign server.

In a blog post this week, reddit systems administrator Jason Harvey expressed concerns that complying with SOPA and PIPA could be prohibitively time- and labor-intensive: "If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments."

Jared Friedman, co-founder of document-sharing site Scribd, also fears that the bills could make for outsized punishments based on questionable accusations: "[SOPA] gives service providers very strong incentive to terminate service based on a single alleged complaint."

How to Use Google Cache

Surfers can't use Wikipedia (or OpenCongress or Archive.org) Wednesday , but they can look at recent versions of those pages, thanks to Google's cache of web pages--collections of "snapshots" that serve as backups. Then again, users could also use their research skills and figure out other ways of finding information. Or just go outside for a while.

  • Read about the state of American business.
  • See our slide show in opinion: 5 Ways New Media Are Changing Politics.
  • Follow U.S. News Debate Club on Twitter.