Today, we will cover the first half of section 103 of HR 3261, the proposed bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA for short. As with entry number one, which can be found here, these blogs are not about opinion or what is right and what is wrong. This is simply to help those who do not want to read the entire bill or have issues understanding what parts of the bill are trying to say. As always, if you want to follow along, the entire text of the bill as proposed can be found here.


I apologize for the poor formatting in the first blog, translating from word to the website doesn't always function so well. Also, in response to a comment from Saint, I am trying a bit harder this time to simplify the jargon and wording I use and put it in terms a little easier to understand.

Section 103 is all about the details involved in notifying a U.S. based website of a copyright infringement and the requirements to take those websites to court. It also outlines the responsibilities of payment service providers and internet ad agencies when notified by a copyright holder that a website is violating a copyright law. We will cover today up until the point where it is determined that court proceedings are necessary, leaving the details of the trial and remedies for next time.

Without further ado, I give you a summary of Section 103:

Subsection a of this section helps us understand what they define to be a site "dedicated to the theft of U.S. property". This is important to understand, so here is a summary of how it is defined: it is a website that is either maintained in the United States, or owned/operated by a person within the United States, that is either:

  • a) Designed to, marketed as, or has limited purpose other than to sell or distribute copyrighted materials without permission of the owner, conduct national or corporate espionage, and sell or distribute counterfeit goods or services.
  • b) Uses or distributes methods of circumventing technological copyright measures or promotes itself to be a way to circumvent copyrights.

With that definition out of the way, we are ready to proceed on to subsection b, which explains the methods that will be permitted to prevent sites dedicated to the theft of U.S. property from receiving U.S.-based financial support.

  • 1) Payment network providers (Paypal, Visa, etc...) have to do what they can to stop all US-based transactions from processing on any account related to the website within five days of notification.
  • 2) Internet advertising services (those boxes that show up on the sides of websites) need to cut off all advertising that takes place on the site as well as advertising on other site for the guilty website. They must also cease all receipt or distributions of funds to that website.

This subsection also explains that payment network providers and advertising agencies must designate an agent to receive notifications regarding websites containing copyrighted material. A list of these agents will be kept and made publicly available through the internet so that copyright holders can easily make contact with these agents. Notifications sent to these agents must be in writing and must include most of the following:

  • 1) An authorization by a person whose intellectual property is being stolen or an agent of that person.
  • 2) The web address or IP address of the website.
  • 3) Facts showing that the site really is stealing the intellectual property of the person(s) above, showing how that person will be financially harmed by the activities of the site.
  • 4) Information showing that the site is utilizing a payment network provider or internet advertising agency.
  • 5) Contact information of the person being financially harmed by the website.
  • 6) A statement that the above information is correct under penalty of perjury.
  • 7) Evidence that the website is based in the United States or owned/operated by someone within the United States.

The payment network provider or internet advertising agency is then required to provide notification of the denial of service to the named website.

Subsection b also provides a method for internet sites and owners/operators/registrants of those sites to challenge a decision that the associated website is considered to be one dedicated to the theft of U.S. property by responding with a letter containing website details and an attestation that their site does not contain any of the copyrighted material included in the letter from the payment service provider or internet ad agency.

If a provider of a notification or response to a notification (counter-notification) knowingly and significantly misrepresents information on the notices (copyright holder states their material is on a website when it never was, website responds to say they never had material when they did, etc...), they will be liable for any monetary damages resulting from that misstatement.

Subsection c covers what happens if a website responds to a notification, stating that they are not a website dedicated to the theft of U.S. property. Essentially, if they make this claim, and the copyright owner still feels the copyright is being infringed upon, they can initiate a case against the site or the owner/operator/registrants. Once they chose to take the website (or its owners, etc...) to court, they must send a notification to the person or site they are taking to court as well as any court required forms or paperwork.

After the paperwork is filed by the copyright holder (the plaintiff), the court has the authority, if it chooses, to issue a temporary order to cease activity on the internet (i.e. shut the site down or remove specified material) until the case is resolved in court.


We'll try and keep these bite-sized as I know the lines can start to blur together after a few minutes. As with before, please make comments but keep it civil and avoid the love/hate of SOPA for another time. Again, this is not about passion or resolve; it is about arming ourselves with the facts.