The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will consider the Stop Online Piracy Act ("SOPA") on November 16, a bill designed to complement the proposed PROTECT IP Act in the Senate in efforts to fight online piracy and copyright infringement.
House representatives have proposed restricting the authority of the government and copyright holders to block access to foreign websites accused of copyright infringement. The provision would require a court ruling prior to any action taken against any allegedly infringing sites. Critics of the similar PROTECT IP Act have argued previously that unilateral action by copyright owners or the government to ban or block websites accused of copyright infringement from advertisements or search engines raises potential First Amendment concerns and other legal implications.
The November hearing should enable critics and supporters to make a case for other, potential revisions to the legislation. If passed, this legislation will directly impact a copyright owner’s remedies in enforcing his or her copyright. Foreign websites hosting copyrighted materials will be most affected.
Copyright owners should be aware of remedies for online copyright infringement and should seek experienced counsel to help navigate the legal implications.