Hollywood Winning in SOPA Debate?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and their media pals, are winning in the current debate on whether to let the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) pass on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

This debate has been a hot one in the past few weeks, with many opponents of the bill adding a 'censored' image to their website, prompting people that don't want their favourite websites impeded by the bill to call, write and email their representatives, urging them not to back SOPA.

So far though this doesn't appear to have had much effect, as despite 83 engineers and technical experts condemning the bill as well as lobbyists from Facebook, Google and many other large online firms, SOPA still looks set to make it through. On top of that, almost all the amendments requested by social networks and other internet giants have been turned down.

Despite the billions of dollars worth of corporation opposing SOPA, there's an equally impressive set of corporations backing it, with pharmaceutical firms siding with Hollywood studios in passing the bill. They claim that with the internet in its current state, billions of dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs are being lost due to copyright infringement within and outside the United States

If enacted, SOPA would allow governments and corporations to force ISPs, hosting companies, payment services and search engines to block websites for infringing or enabling the infringement of copyright. The real problem with this is that it's so vague, potentially allowing for any website that uses copy-written content for parody or similar to be removed or have the entire website blocked. This could lead to such stalwarts of modern day life from being taken off line or so crippled they can barely operate. Sites like Youtube, torrent websites and streaming sites, social networks, almost every search engine - all of these could technically come under the facilitating copyright infringement banner.

Some of those involved have hinted at some shenanigans going on as part of the debate, "Why is there this rush to judgment?," said Dan Lungren, a California Republican - suggesting that perhaps proponents of SOPA are hoping to rush it through before opposition has built.

One of the advisors that was brought in was Google executive Vint Cerf, often considered one of the founding fathers of the internet as we know it. He and some of the engineers claimed that the internet could not continue as the free and open medium that we have now if SOPA was passed in its current state.

The proceedings have been interrupted a few times, with one of the more scandalous ones involved one of the supporters of the act, Republican Steve King. He posted on Twitter during the debate that one of the other representatives there - Mrs Sheila Jackson Lee - was "boring."

While there was some confusion over how to handle this as part of the official records, Mr King was unapologetic, stating that Mrs Jackson Lee should simply "get a sense of humour".

If the SOPA bill survives the debate today, it'll be passed on to the House of Representatives to judge whether it should become law early next year.