This situation promises to get even worse if SOPA passes.
SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, tries to extend online copyright protections to create a blacklist of web sites that can be censored. As the EFF summarizes, there are three major parts to this bill:
- Under section 102, the Attorney General can seek a court order that would force search engines, DNS providers, servers, payment processors, and advertisers to stop doing business with allegedly infringing websites.
- Under Section 103 (cleverly entitled the “market based” approach), IP rightsholders can take action by themselves, by sending notices directly to payment processors—like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal—demanding that they cut off all payments to the website.
- Section 104 of SOPA also allows payment processors to cut websites off voluntarily—even if they haven’t received a notice. Visa and Mastercard cannot be held accountable if they cease processing payments to any site, as long as they have a “reasonable belief” that the website is engaged in copyright violations of any kind.
For more reading on this issue, follow my SOPA stack on Delicious. A good starting point is an article by the Stanford Law Review. The EFF has a list of things you can do. Clay Johnson has an interesting discussion on how to get Congress to pay attention.