Unless you’re wholly entrenched in the daily goings on of Internet and copyright law, SOPA might be one of those things you hadn’t even heard of until this morning, when sites like BoingBoing and Tumblr and GigaOm launched posts explaining and condemning it. SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill introduced into the House that, according to a New York Times OpEd, “would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. [SOPA] goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright.”
Sounds pretty scary, right? The SOPA hearings started in the House today, and that’s why today has been declared American Censorship Day. Numerous companies and websites are attempting to raise awareness about SOPA in an attempt to “save the Internet” and hopefully block the passage of the law. But so far, according to Techdirt, the odds are stacked 5 to 1 in favor of passing the bill.
SOPA has many implications for casual Internet users, but for journalists the repercussions of SOPA passing could be immense. Here are a few ways in which the passage of SOPA could impact journalists and their organizations.