If you don’t surf the web very often, you may not have heard about SOPA and PIPA. No, SOPA is not something to wash with nor is PIPA the Duchess’ sister.
SOPA (H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (S. 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011; also known as Protect IP Act) were introduced with the intent to stop internet piracy and protect intellectual property. Essentially, the legislation gives the government authority to take down websites if a court finds a site in violation of the legislation; these websites would be considered “rogue” sites.
The main intention of the legislation is to protect intellectual property and revenue; there has been an annual increase of complaints of internet piracy, unauthorized copying, and counterfeit products that proliferates the internet. The bills are in the process of the maneuvering through Congress. H.R. 3261 is in “committee,” which is typically the first step after a bill is introduced in the House of Representatives; while S. 968 was recommended to be voted on by the Senate. Although the bills are the center of controversy, it is possible that they might not pass; but rather the wording could be incorporated in other legislation (much like the Indefinite Detention Without Charge or Trial provision that was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which was signed into law December 31st).
SOPA lists, among other things: expanding the definition of criminal copyright infringement; expanding what constitutes criminal trafficking of inherently dangerous goods or services; as well as increasing penalties for specified trade secret offenses and various other intellectual property offenses.
Supporters for SOPA/PIPA contend that internet theft has reduced corporate earnings; passing this legislation would protect their intellectual property from illegal distribution on the internet by shutting down or restricting access to offending websites, thus protecting revenue and entrepreneurship.
Critics claim that the legislation is an over reach and has the potential for abuse, which if passed could allow larger companies to control internet commerce by forcing competitors to take down competing websites. Some argue that such legislation, which concerns many bloggers and some news outlets, may conflict with the first amendment.
For example: the operators of Craigslist claim that if the legislation passes, they may be ordered to shutdown (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111005/10082416208/monster-cable-claims-ebay-craigslist-costco-sears-are-rogue-sites.shtml); Craigslist is listed by Monster Cable® as an “unauthorized dealer” and “blacklisted” along with Sears, Costco, eBay, and many other sites for allegedly selling counterfeit products (http://www.monstercable.com/).
The internet has become a major source of real estate information; consumers and professionals search the internet daily for home listings by brokers and FSBOs, housing and economic news, legislation, public and other related information. The National Association of Realtors® 2010 Profile of Buyers and Sellers indicate that 89% of home buyers use the internet for information and home searching. The number of home buyers, sellers, and owners using the internet to assist them in making a real estate related decision grows annually.
Although the consequences of enacting SOPA/PIPA into law (on the real estate industry) are unclear, it would be undesirable and unfortunate if readily accessible real estate information were to be unduly restricted by some association’s or real estate company’s claim of content ownership. Learn more about SOPA/PIPA, and provide feedback to our Representatives and Senators.
by Dan Krell
This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.