So, as many of you have probably seen, websites are going dark today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act. I'll save my opinions regarding this type of tactic for another time. Needless to say, asking someone to sign a petition without understanding the facts violates the very principals GI Joe taught us:


I think even Cobra Commander was aware that knowing was half the battle, and he was an idiot.

Anyways, today we will wrap up our summary of SOPA, covering Title II of the bill. This section should be quick as most is formalities relating to the bill, but we will go into a bit of depth on a couple of the items as presented in the bill.

Parts I, II, and III of the summary can be found here, here, and here respectively. The bill, in its entirety, can be found here.

As with my other blogs on this subject, this is about a translation of the facts, keeping personal opinions out as best as humanly possible. If you have questions about something, please let me know and I will dig into it.

Without further ado, let's finish this crap:

Section 201

So, this is where the fun begins. Section 201 is designed to adjust existing laws to include the streaming of copyrighted works.

Subsection a simply quotes the existing copyright law that it intends to amend (Title 18 Section 2319) which relates to copyright laws that would be relevant to digital distribution and streaming. It also adds digital distribution. Here is a list of what is changed as described in subsection b:

- Currently, when identifying if a copyright infringement becomes criminal, it would need to exceed $1,000 in retails sales in a 180 day period. Under the amendment, it would change the 180 days to being at least 10 copies made or 10 views of the streaming media and the retail value now needs to exceed $2,500.

- It further defines the process necessary to determine the "retail value" as the fair market value (what would normally paid in a store like Wal-Mart or at an average movie theater or even in a GameStop). Doing so takes into account the age of the copyrighted material.

The most important parts to understand is that in order for a defendant to be ruled to have violated a copyright criminally is that they must meet certain monetary and instance-based requirements. Also, it is important to note that the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully violated a copyright law. On top of that, simply showing that copyrighted material was made available on a website does not prove a willful copyright infringement.

Section 202

This section has very little to do with copyright laws relating to the internet as we view them, specifically copyrights of movies and video games. This section covers proposed amendments related to the trafficking of dangerous goods. Specifically, this covers amendments to fines and definitions of dangerous goods, including additional punishment if the counterfeit goods were equipment or weapons provided to U.S. military for armed services purposes.

It does, however, propose increases on fines and imprisonment terms for those who deal in counterfeit goods, including stickers, coxes, containers, packaging, labels, etc...

Due to the fact that I am going insane and very little of this law applies to gaming, I am going to skip the rest of this section and move on.

Section 203

Section 203 simply seeks to amend existing law against foreign and economic espionage (selling government secrets or selling an uncut copy of The Hobbit to an outside source). It increases fines from $500,000 to no less than $1,000,000 and no more than $5,000,000. Also, imprisonment is increased from 15 years to 20 years for these offenses.

Ultimately, this means that if you worked for Bioware and stole the code for Mass Effect 3, selling it to Activision, you could be fined up to $5,000,000 and spend up to 20 years in prison.

Section 204

This section is very wordy and more complex than it needs to be, but that is lawyers and politicians for you. This whole section can be summed by by saying this: at least 180 days after this bill becomes law, the group responsible for ensuring that punishments dealt by the U.S. Court System will conduct a study and a review of the current sentencing relating to copyright infringements and those other areas discussed in the bill and determine if changes need to be made. That's it, super simple.

Section 205

This is the final section of the bill and one that seems to be misunderstood by certain individuals, even on this site. This section discusses defending intellectual property rights abroad. This section does not give the United States the ability to bring charges against a foreign citizen. Let me say this again: this section does not give the United States the ability to bring charges against a foreign citizen.

Very simply put, this section proposes the setup of a government agency designed to work with other nations to work towards eliminating the piracy of copyrighted materials by adapting laws and bills in their own countries under their own direction. It sets forth the general guidelines for how we should work towards protecting the copyrights of those foreign citizens as well. I could go into detail, making an organizational chart for the various positions in the agency, but that would be a waste.


There you have it. In four blogs, I have helped break down and turn SOPA into plain English. Whether you agree or disagree, at least make sure you can disagree about facts and not the panicky, fear absorbed "facts" that get thrown at you by every media outlet out there.

Remember, a bill is not a law. It still must pass House and Senate, during which time every bill is heavily modified in all different shapes and forms. Even then, the President has the power to veto the bill. We have checks and balances in this nation, people.

If you agree, agree on the facts as they are presented. If you disagree, disagree with the facts, not the garbage, conjecture, and misinformation. If there is interest, maybe I will divulge my personal opinions on the bill. Otherwise, go in peace having gained knowledge.

And now, I look forward to writing a normal blog in the near future...yay!