We will be discussing the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) during our weekly SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, January 9, 2012. A brief synopsis and several relevant articles and sites are presented below.

SOPA (attached) has been the subject of much commentary as of late.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an entire site devoted to SOPA.  Infographics discussing the substance of SOPA have been prepared by various sources.  Law professors have also weighed in on the SOPA debate.  On the other side of the debate, product manufacturers subject to counterfeiting and content producers have each supported SOPA.

In general, SOPA itself states that is intended “[t]o promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.”  Title 1, section 102 enables the Attorney General, at the request of a content holder, to request an order from a U.S. court to require internet service providers (DSL, Cable, FiOS, internet hosting sites and the like), internet search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo and the like), internet advertising services (Google, Apple iAd, Yahoo and the like) and payment processors (banks, advertisers and the like) to take “technically feasible and reasonable measures” to stop users from accessing a “foreign” infringing site, to stop processing of payments directed to the operators of the site and to stop serving ads (and providing money) for the site.  Section 103 provides the ability for content holders to go directly to payment processors and internet advertising services in a DMCA-like take down procedure directed to cutting off funding for the site.

Other sections provide the internet service providers, internet search engines, payment processors and internet advertising services who comply with an order or a legitimate request with immunity to lawsuits by the allegedly infringing site.  Still other provisions provide that the effect of the law will be studied by the copyright office and that the Copyright Office will begin a study of “notorious” infringers in order to make recommendations to Congress.

Title 2 includes miscellaneous revisions to Title 17 and 18 of the U.S. Code pertaining to making copies of movies, for example, available before their theatrical release.  Title 2 also includes additional provisions related to counterfeit goods and unlawful use of trademarks by overseas entities.  Finally, Title 2 also appoints a new intellectual property attache to coordinate with foreign countries on appropriate enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights.  These provisions are, generally, less-controversial than those in Title 1 of SOPA.

The law professors’ letter and the letter by several content producers referenced above provide a good primer on the two sides of the contentions provisions.  We will begin with these two sides of the issue in our discussion of SOPA on Monday, January 9, 2012 at Noon in our Westlake Village office. This activity is approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit. If you will be joining us, please RSVP to Amanda Jones by 9 am Monday morning.