SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) hasn’t even been passed yet and already, one of the originators of the legislative piece, Texas representative Lamar Smith, has introduced some amendments designed to apparently clarify what SOPA will and won’t do.
To put the 70-page document (PDF) into a short and sweet synopsis, essentially, the amendment clarifies SOPA’s distaste for foreign sites that infringe on what is termed as “U.S. property.” In fact, the war on foreign infringers is plainly stated in the document’s outline:
TITLE I—COMBATING ONLINE PIRACY
Sec. 101. Definitions.
Sec. 102. Action by Attorney General to protect U.S. customers and prevent U.S. support of foreign infringing sites.
Sec. 103. Protection of U.S. customers and prevention of U.S. funding of sites dedicated to theft of U.S. property.
The preference to take this war to foreign infringers appears numerous time throughout the document, which is truly an exercise in redundancy. For instance, in the amendment, the word “foreign” is mentioned 58 times, and most of them are in relation to infringing on the “intellectual properties of the United States…”
…whether the United States Government should initiate a process to identify and designate foreign entities from a list of notorious foreign infringers that would be prohibited from raising capital in the United States.
An analysis of the adequacy of relying upon foreign governments to pursue legal action against notorious foreign infringers.
One more time, just for effect:
An analysis of the significant harm inflicted by notorious foreign infringers on consumers, businesses, and intellectual property industries in the United States and abroad.
While there is some lip service paid to copyright infringers in the United States, those that reside outside of our borders are clearly the focus in Smith’s amendment. If they can’t be punished by the long arm of the United States and its laws, Smith is looking to Internet service providers for help in the form of preventing access:
A service provider shall take such measures as it determines to be the least burdensome, technically feasible, and reasonable means designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible.
It was pointed out in Wired’s post that sites with a .com, .net, or .org suffix are not covered by the bill. Does this mean we can start a NapsterTwoPointOh.com and offer infringing files without provocation? No, ISPs will still be asked/required to block access to American infringers, but it’s clear the U.S. government is more concerned with the Pirate Bays of the world.